The Center for American Progress is out with a new bit of research showing that in parts of the country that are more heavily middle class, there also tends to be more upward mobility for the poor. In other words, if you're born low-income, you have a better chance of growing up to be richer than your parents if there are lots of middle class families in the city or town you call home.
Count this as one more reason to be depressed about the hollowing out of our economic middle.
The CAP analysis is a follow-up to a blockbuster study on class and geography in America released this summer by a team of economists led by Harvard's Raj Chetty. On the whole, the United States is a less economically mobile society than many other wealthy countries. A child born rich is more likely to stay rich and a child born poor is more likely to stay poor here than they would be in Sweden or Germany or Canada, for instance. But Chetty and his collaborators found that economic mobility actually varies immensely from region to region in the U.S. The Northeast, West Coast, and Great Plains have lots—on par with some of the most egalitarian countries in Europe, in some cases—while regions like the Southeast and old industrial Midwest have very little.