January 23, 2018, CityLab
While the US has long had a high level of economic inequality, in theory this was balanced in part by the notion that, as President Clinton once put it, “If you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll be rewarded with a good life for yourself and a better chance for your children.” There is at least a grain of truth in Clinton’s nostrum. After World War II, living standards did rise—median wages, adjusted for inflation, went up 95 percent in the quarter century after 1947. Since the 1970s, however, wages, except at the top, have barely kept pace with inflation.
Lack of economic mobility, in short, is an important issue. Since race and economic inequality are correlated, if economic mobility remains low, that means that racial inequality in wealth and income would likely persist, with the consequence that