But these are short term trends. What would be more interesting to me is how fathers and sons compare. If you are born in a poor family, what is the likelihood that you will be poor as an adult? If you are born to a rich family, then it's not a big deal being poor. Maybe you're poor while you're going to medical school or law school. Then your income takes off. The poor would have a harder time going to law school.
Brookings has the generational comparison here and they do it across various countries. Comparing how fathers compare to sons the US is among the worst. You are more likely to be poor if your father is poor in America than in most other countries surveyed. What's interesting about this is that the perceptions of Americans are precisely the opposite. They think that America is the best place to be if you'd want to pull yourself up from poverty and become rich. Yet fewer in America are actually able to do that as compared to the more socialist European countries, with the exception of England.
Why do Americans have this erroneous perception? Mark Perry is relying on studies from James Pethokoukis from the American Enterprise Institute. Paul Krugman is familiar with it. He calls the work "flat out lies". That's an unusually harsh statement from Krugman. But we are inundated with lies from the AEI. It's their job to convince us that we have it best. That serves the interest of their corporate and wealthy backers. They do it even when the arguments contradict each other. Global warming isn't happening. Or yes it is happening and nobody denies it, but humans aren't the cause. Or wait, yes it is happening and humans are the cause, but that doesn't mean we should do anything about it. Here's how Krugman put it.
You might ask, how is it possible to take such mutually contradictory positions? And the answer is, it’s very easy if confusing the debate is your job.
Jon writes: Paul Krugman is familiar with it. He calls the work "flat out lies". That's an unusually harsh statement from Krugman. But we are inundated with lies from the AEI.
I have more to say on your post, but just wanted to comment quickly on this. This is totally wrong. This is among the more MODERATE of Krugman's comments. Seriously dude, your comment above makes me wonder if you actually regularly read Krugman. He is an ass. Very harsh. Rude even. Lots of ad hominem. Atleast in the case above, Krugman is making a factual claim. That's mild Krugman.
More substance, less irrelevance please.
First off, it's important to state that you would expect more capitalist countries to have LESS father to son change than less capitalist countries. It's easy to see why: genetics. IQ, personality traits, work ethic, are all highly genetic. And if society deems one person worth less than another person, chances are that their respective children will befall the same fate.
Second, you have to be careful with cross country stats, definitions can be slippery. In Europe, for example, their quintiles have less separation (lower inequality) so two people rising to the same absolute economic level will show lower mobility in the USA than in Europe. Same thing for poverty. Europe's definitions, because of extensive welfare, universal healthcare etc, will define poverty at a different point (much lower) than someone in the United States. So two people making the same amount of money could be classified as poor in the United States and lower middle class in certain parts of Europe.
Third, and this is really more related to my first point above but partly also my second, is it's important to keep in mind the geographical difference in the amount and types of immigrants the United States lets in vs Europe (which, I think is a good thing - but it can cloud metrics like this). The immigrants coming into the United States tend to be more numerous and poorer than those entering most European countries. The lower you are down the economic ladder, the longer it would take for mobility to take off (who is more likely to be a Steve Jobs? An educated Turk in Germany, or a poor rancher from Mexico?) .
Lastly, no matter what the final conclusion is, it seems that US policies have little to do with it, as economic mobility has been pretty much steady since the 1950's despite drastic policy differences.
For more on the above, see here and here.
First off, it's important to state that you would expect more capitalist countries to have LESS father to son change than less capitalist countries.
If that's true why do Sowell and the rest of the right wing flak machine pretend that the US has exceptionally high income mobility? What you're saying is purely speculative. What Sowell is saying is the increased opportunities in the US (unfettered by the constraints of socialism, welfare state taxing you and holding you back, creating disincentives for success) are what makes high income mobility in the US possible. Here you are saying that you expect low income mobility in the US. Perry doesn't see it that way. Sowell doesn't see it that way.
Second, you have to be careful with cross country stats, definitions can be slippery.
That same point is made in the study I linked to.
The immigrants coming into the United States tend to be more numerous and poorer than those entering most European countries. The lower you are down the economic ladder, the longer it would take for mobility to take off (who is more likely to be a Steve Jobs? An educated Turk in Germany, or a poor rancher from Mexico?).
Steve Jobs' biological father was a Syrian immigrant, but he was adopted. I don't see the point though. You say, who is more likely to be successful, son of the poor or son of the rich. Yeah, son of the rich. That's kind of the point. When an immigrant comes to this country he's poor. Will his children be poor? In America the answer is probably yes. Our high rate of immigration though probably skews this in a direction of high income mobility though. Immigrants probably do better than the general population in terms of income mobility. So if anything we'd probably look even worse if it weren't for immigration.
You write, Here you are saying that you expect low income mobility in the US. Perry doesn't see it that way. Sowell doesn't see it that way.
You didn't talk about mobility more generally (a point I would agree with Sowell and Perry, largely), you specifically brought up biological mobility. That's not really the same thing.
What Sowell and Perry could be saying is that if you are a Steve Jobs in DNA, and were brought to the United States in poverty, it is precisely in this country that you could more easily - and will more easily - rise to be the "real" Steve Jobs. That's different (though subtly, yes) than the economic mobility you brought up.
Again, read the links I posted...most of your objections are addressed there.
What Sowell and Perry could be saying is that if you are a Steve Jobs in DNA, and were brought to the United States in poverty, it is precisely in this country that you could more easily - and will more easily - rise to be the "real" Steve Jobs.
Why would you think they are saying that? They don't state that. And none of the evidence they offered would support such a conclusion.
They are talking about income bracket for people at one stage of their life and the same people's income bracket a short time later. There's no correlation to DNA or even ability even suggested. People do move from poor to rich and rich to poor. That's the claim.
My point is if you look only at short time durations your data is skewed by the fact that kids of rich parents and kids of poor parents start off poor, but the rich kids then take off and the poor kids stay back. If we are worse then other countries on longer term mobility this means we have less equality of opportunity and more plutocracy.
And I don't think you want to go down this road of "The rich have superior DNA." I know you don't mean it, but it sounds really racist. It's also total BS. Black people are poor not because of inferior DNA but because of the plutocratic tendencies of our society.
A few points:
1. I think I am the expert here on what conservatives truly think. :-)
2. There is a difference, whether you like it or not, between mobility more generally and specifically biological mobility.
3. Nowhere in my response did I mention race - only poor, rich, smart and, by implication, dumb. The fact that you translated that to an issue of race (specifically blacks) says more about your preconceived notions than it does anything else. Not saying you are a racist (in fact, I know you're not). Just saying.
4. The beliefs that both A) IQ is strongly hereditary and B) The higher the IQ, the higher the probability you are successful...are not controversial. Basic genetics (on the other hand, the connection to race IS - but nobody here is making that connection).
For more on point 4, read this, this, this (pay special attention to the adoptees control variable) and here (btw, this is another perfect example of where if you only read Krugman, you think he is a genius who crushes his opponents - but if you read his opponents as well, you see that he is called to the carpet more often than he lets on, and is the one crushed - or atleast intentionally leaving the reader with a different viewpoint). Then there is this post which basically lays out our fundamental disagreement here. But don't stop there. Ask anybody who has studied genetics. About as controversial as evolution is to biologists.
You're boxing with shadows, man. There's 2 separate issues. 1-Are Mark Perry and Thomas Sowell making claims about the relationship between DNA and money making? The answer to that is no. 2-Is there a relationship between intelligence and money making. The answer to that is yes. You're arguing for statement 2, but I didn't dispute it.
Regarding mobility, Krugman has another comment that's worth looking at here and highlights the key issue. These arguments are standard right wing fare whenever discussion of inequality makes headlines. It's all been debunked before, but what do you expect? What do you expect bought and paid for think tanks like AEI and the Tax Policy Center to come up with? Their job is to muddy the waters in service to their financial backers. What should you expect from them? Crap. That's what you repeatedly get, even though it's not only easily debunked, it's been debunked for a long time.
We can talk about income mobility MORE GENERALLY later...right now, I am addressing YOUR post, namely: biological mobility. You didn't bring up random people and how they distribute across the income spectrum over time...you brought up parent and child. That's unique. That's specific.
In other words, YES, Mark Perry and Thomas Sowell are NOT "making claims about the relationship between DNA and money making". We agree on that. But YOU ARE. You brought up biological parent and child (hence my statement that your post does not address the same mobility).
I addressed your argument. You have yet to respond to my point #4 above. Do you or do you not agree? I am not asking for a mere "connection", but a STRONGER connection than nurture.
In other words, do you grant a) over b) in my last link above?
Regarding your links, that's good information and a bit surprising to me. But you have to be careful. Adopted kids are often problem kids. Foster kids can end up being adopted. When are these kids adopted? What problems did they experience prior to adoption? What behaviors did they learn?
And it's just a fact that the adopted kids are often treated differently than the biological kids. I just toured a mansion in Michigan. Owned by the widow of John Dodge. They had sleeping quarters for the biological kids and then sleeping quarters for the adopted child. The adopted child is doing pretty well relative to a typical American, but not doing as well as the biological kids.
Remember that today's rich people like to flatter themselves and say that the real reason they are rich is because they are so much better and more talented. Are they really? You should see the creativity and hard work of some of these poor African mothers. If creativity and hard work made for wealth they'd be the richest of all. We were born here and are very lucky. That's why we're doing so much better.
When they refer to adopted kids, they often look at twins. One twin raised by a poor family, one raised by a rich, for example. It's not just random adopted kids.
(Btw, I am currently reading Bryan Caplan's latest book that deals ALOT with this, in reference to the role of parents).
Regarding hardwork: remember, it's not just hardwork. It's creativity. Ability to think outside the box. etc IQ is just a proxy of that but really it's more than that. All of which has a hereditary component.
Lastly, again, nobody here is making the racial connection. Only the hereditary one. The racial connection is another topic.
When they refer to adopted kids, they often look at twins. One twin raised by a poor family, one raised by a rich, for example. It's not just random adopted kids.
How often are you faced with this condition? Are there enough samples to affect the results?
I find these results to just be odd. Look at the worst performers. Adopted kids with families making $125K and $200K. You're better off being adopted by a family that makes any other amount. $10K, $25K, whatever you pick. Does that make any sense? Doesn't being part of a rich family at least mean you are more likely to graduate from college (at least you can afford it) and just graduating from college means you should be more likely to make better money. But these adopted kids are making less money than adopted kids from poorer parents.
Then look at the biological kids. The kids with parents that make $25K are now making $60K. What about the kids with parents making $40K. They're making less than the kids with the extremely poor parents. They're making about $53K. That just makes no sense.
The test from Sweden makes a little more sense. If I'm reading it right the incomes track. Richer adoptive parents? Richer kids. Not quite as good as the biological kids for upper income brackets and a mixed bag for the lower brackets. If anything this tells you that Sweden is meritocratic. That's about what you expect in a society that rewards performance. The US results are just plain not believable for me.
Not believable because frankly, you give parents too much credit. Read the latest book from Caplan. He spells this out. Parents dont matter all that much, long term.
I mean, if you base your views on academic research and consensus. If you don't, then you can believe whatever you want.
Book sounds interesting. But do you really think you're better off in terms of your ability to make good money in the future being adopted by a poor family or a rich family? Does that make sense? I wanted to look at the paper, but it wasn't available to view. The one from Sweden is, but then the Swedish results look more reasonable.
Have you heard of Judith Harris? She is the one that first publicized this whole thing. Look into her book. Caplan basically took her findings and built upon them further. He even consulted her before publishing.
Anyway, her basic thesis is that what accounts for children and WHY they turn out the way they do are basically two things: 1. Genetics, 2. Environment. Each representing about 50%. Parents have very little influence - outside of genetics, of course. Environment involves parents, you say? Well, she weeds that out. What she means by environment is primarily "same age peers". So middle class families children tend to go to college more than lower class families because middle class children tend to want to go to college more than lower class children. It's all peer pressure and actual parents have very little long term influence.
To be honest, I was very skeptical when I first started reading it. And still hesitate to fully accept it. But she makes a very very powerful argument. I don't do it justice by summarizing it. It's one of those things you gotta just dig into yourself.
So, given that blacks on average make less than whites, what do you think explains that? Or what would Caplan attribute that to?
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