Does America Promote Mobility As Well As Other Nations?

November 17, 2011

Economic Mobility in America Report The Pew Economic Mobility Project has released a fact sheet that investigates how Americans' mobility outcomes compare with those of their counterparts in other nations. The summary, entitled "Does America Promote Mobility As Well As Other Nations?", previews key findings from a multi-country study of economic mobility led by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Sutton Trust. As part of the study, called Cross-National Research on Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage (CRITA), researchers in 10 countries investigated how socioeconomic advantage, as measured by parents' education, is transmitted over the course of one's life.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • In the United States, there is a stronger link between parental education and children’s economic, educational, and socio-emotional outcomes than in any other country investigated.
  • Family background begins affecting children early in life: The study found that across countries, disparities in children’s outcomes by family background occur as early as they can first be measured. They exist for both cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes and usually are larger for the former. According to CRITA researchers, in no country investigated did children from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds start out equally prepared for schooling, in terms of cognitive abilities and social behavior.
  • Preschool exposure can have lasting positive effects on educational and economic disparities by family background, especially for low- and middle-income children.
  • Disparities in early child outcomes persist into adolescence: The evidence demonstrates that average differences in measurable child outcomes early in life continue up to university age and likely beyond.
  • Across countries, policies and institutions do influence mobility.

Read the full report. A more detailed examination of the project's results will be published by the Russell Sage Foundation in Spring 2012 in the volume From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage.
Does America Promote Mobility As Well As Other Nations?

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