Social Mobility and the American Dream

The American Dream is not dead, but Americans today experience less socioeconomic fluidity between where they are born and where they end up than people in comparable nations, including Great Britain. It is “in need of some health care,” says Richard Reeves, an Economic Studies fellow and policy director of the Center on Children and Families. In this podcast, Reeves discusses his research on policies to make evidence-based social mobility—from birth, through childhood into adulthood—a priority, at both state- and federal-levels. Family and parents matter, and governments can help; “That’s a place where Republicans and Democrats can really meet around.”

Reeves, who edits the Social Mobility Memos blog at Brookings, discusses evidence-based approaches to understanding social mobility and devising policies to increase it. “The belief that [American] society is open and fluid and classless,” he says, “may actually be inhibiting action to make that true.” He says that “an unequal society can become a stratified society. Inequality can begin to perpetuate itself almost automatically.”



Show notes:

The Parenting Gap
• A New Federal Policy Architecture to Promote Social Mobility
Social Mobility Memos blog
Reeves on “Philosophy Bites” podcast on John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand
State of the Nation 2013: social mobility and child poverty in Great Britain