February 21st, 2013
09:54 AM ET

Upward mobility

By Fareed Zakaria

America has long been seen–by its citizens and the world–as the place where anyone can make it. And yet studies from the past two decades all point to a different reality. Economic mobility in the U.S. is low compared with what it was in times past and with current levels in many European countries and Canada. It is particularly sticky at the two ends of the economic ladder. Rich people rarely become poor in a generation–and the poorest seldom get rich. Despite the rags-to-riches myth, such stories are the exception. A comprehensive study by the Pew Economic Mobility Project documents that in the U.S. today, few poor people become even upper middle class.

That's why President Obama's proposal to expand early-childhood education is vitally important: the idea is to provide high-quality pre-K for 4-year-olds from families whose incomes are at or below 200% of the poverty line–that is at or below $47,000 for a family of four. Children born into poor or dysfunctional families must have pathways up, especially if they have the talent to succeed. And the more we learn about neuroscience, the clearer it becomes that the human brain develops much sooner than we had believed. Early stimulation and education can be highly effective.

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Topics: Time

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    There was too much truth in what I wrote and my comments vanished-deemed politically incorrect by Thought Police at CNN. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother writing comments in this totalitarian mentality and censorship. I would like to see an improvement , but this hiding of truth and interference by censors makes our situation worse. Unless we face the truth , we willl continue to go downhill fast.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:21 am | Reply
    • Quigley

      I know how you feel, rightospeak. These people block some of my posts, too.

      February 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  2. Quigley

    That guy calling himself Quigley isn't me. I agree with the articile in full, the more educated people become, the better it is for all society. People who would disagree with this sentiment are generally afraid, a more educated public is nothing to be afraid of, its something to be celebrated.

    February 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  3. Vinnie from Tewksbury

    I tried to post a comment. I believe that it is to the point and very informative but for some reason It does not show up. Is there any reason for this?

    February 25, 2013 at 6:21 am | Reply

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