January 18, 2014


There's No Simple Solution for Economic Mobility (Ronald Brownstein, January 17, 2014, National Journal)

The more researchers learn about what it takes to build an effective ladder of opportunity, the more the answer looks like, well, a ladder.

In other words, research tells us that no single crossroads determines whether young people born in modest circumstances can advance to a better life than their parents. [...]

As the Brookings Institution's Richard Reeves and Kerry Searle Grannis noted in a perceptive paper this week, a child raised in the bottom fifth of the income distribution now is almost six times as likely to remain there as to reach the top fifth.

The big insight from Reeves and Grannis is that reversing these trends requires more than "a one-shot policy." Their summary of the research finds that kids from low-income families are much less likely than those with more-affluent parents to receive effective parenting in early childhood; to start school ready to learn; to be equipped for postsecondary education; and to get a strong start in the labor market or when forming a family. Closing these gaps requires smart, sustained engagement, because evidence shows that the positive effects of even the best interventions at one level (such as good Head Start programs) "wear off over time unless there are additional, reinforcing interventions at the next life stage."

That means there's no silver bullet to close the opportunity gap. Even expanded early-childhood education--where most experts would place the most chips--can't guarantee later success. 

Actually, we know exactly how to make the "poor" even wealthier than they currently are in America.  But, since such solutions will be universal, everyone else will grow wealthier as well.


Initiatives to Promote Savings From Childhood Catching On (Amy Goldstein, 8/20/05, Washington Post)

[P]resident Bush's first Treasury secretary, Paul H. O'Neill, has been giving speeches around the country, promoting an even bolder plan he has devised for children's accounts that he says would guarantee every American at least $1 million by age 65, eventually eliminating the need for Social Security.

Fostering savings from childhood is, in a sense, a spillover from the debate over whether to establish private investment accounts in Social Security, the nation's fragile retirement system. But unlike the partisan rancor that runs through the Social Security debate, children's accounts are gaining proponents across the ideological spectrum. Conservative Republicans construe them as a form of the market-oriented "ownership society" that Bush touts. Liberal Democrats view them as an extension of the Great Society of the 1960s that created government programs to lift people from poverty.

"It's a simple kind of merging of the stereotypes of the parties," said Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), sponsor of a bill that would create KIDS Accounts. "You give to people; you put some responsibility on people to save, as well."

Posted by at January 18, 2014 8:42 AM

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