Thursday Dec 06, 201208:28 AM GMT
US becomes a country of 'downward mobility'
Thu Dec 6, 2012 8:28AM
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An integral part of the American Dream is under threat - as "downward mobility" seems to be threatening the education system in the United States.

 

The idea of going to college - and the expectation that the next generation will be better educated and more prosperous than its predecessor - has been hardwired into the ambitions of the middle classes in the United States.

 

But there are deep-seated worries about whether this upward mobility is going into reverse.

 

Andreas Schleicher, special adviser on education at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says the U.S. is now the only major economy in the world where the younger generation is not going to be better educated than the older.

 

"It's something of great significance because much of today's economic power of the United States rests on a very high degree of adult skills - and that is now at risk," says Mr Schleicher.

 

"These skills are the engine of the US economy and the engine is stuttering," says Mr Schleicher, one of the world's most influential experts on international education comparisons.


Lack of opportunity

 

The annual OECD education statistics show that only about one in five young adults in the U.S. reaches a higher level of education than their parents - among the lowest rates of upward mobility in the developed world.

 

For a country whose self-image is based on optimism and opportunity, the U.S. is now a country where someone with poorly-educated parents is less likely to reach university than in almost any other industrial country.

 

And about one in five young adults in the U.S. are now defined in educational terms as "downwardly mobile" - such as children who have graduate parents but who don't reach university level themselves.

 

When the global story of higher education is so much about rapid expansion and the race to increase graduates, it's almost counter-intuitive to find a powerhouse such as the United States on the brink of going backwards. BBC

 

FACTS & FIGURES

 

Income inequality in U.S. is on the rise.

 

A new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details the explosive growth in income inequality throughout the United States over the past three decades. wsws.org

 

The report, entitled Pulling Apart, is unique in that it breaks down data regarding inequality to the state level, demonstrating that “the growth in income inequality since the late 1970s has not been a geographically isolated phenomenon.” wsws.org

 

“Nationwide, income gaps between the richest households and both the poorest households and middle-income households have widened significantly since the late 1970s,” the study’s authors conclude. wsws.org

 

Middle-class Americans have seen their income and wealth drop over the past decade, their share of the population shrink, and have shed some "but by no means all" of their faith in the future, according to findings by the Pew Research Center in August. Newsday

 

According to Pew Research, a full 32 percent of Americans now identify themselves as being lower class, up from 25 percent in 2008. Forbes

 

AHT/HJ

 

 

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