Education And Social Mobility In The 1970's

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History of Higher Education and Social Mobility
Around the 1950’s to the late 1970’s the economy was thriving healthily. There was less income inequality and higher mobility. The income inequality percentage was only a 4 percent income difference between lower-income households and the higher income households. It is speculated that the reason for such an even distribution of social mobility was because the United States had made higher education a priority, and more citizens started going to college and getting degrees. In 1940 6 percent of American’s had a college degree, but the percentage had started to heighted around the 1950’s all the way to the late 1970’s. During this time higher education was tuition free, making public universities
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The United States is said to have a large income inequality gap, which in turn means that the United States also has low social mobility. In a thriving socially mobile society all children would have the same opportunity and likelihood of ending up in any of the income distribution brackets, but that is not the case in America because those who are wealthy are likely to stay wealthy and those who are poor are likely to stay that way. Research proves this trend that well-off families are disproportionately likely to stay well off. Children born in low-income families are ten-times more likely to stay there as opposed to children born to wealthy parents who are five times more likely to end up staying wealthy (Greenstone, Looney, Patashnik, Yu, 2013). This being known, this study also states that high-income families students dominate America’s university enrollment, more wealthy students are attending college and less low-income students are. Another study done by Breen and Jonsson (2005) states that it is not just opportunity that prevents a child from pursuing higher education, the family of origin is very important to a persons aspirations and school performance. If an individual believes that the field of work they want to pursue will not help them pay-off debt they may inquire while in school, or have a high rate of return soon after graduating, parents and the child are more skeptical about pursuing higher education because it is so…show more content…
Based off of the data drawn over the past fifty years, the deciding factor of ones ability to be socially mobile has shifted from reliance on the family business, to the ability to attain higher education. The shift from small businesses to corporations can be party responsible, less people are creating businesses and more are working for large businesses. Wealth is the common denominator in both situations but the dynamic of the wealth has not changed. An interesting correlation between America’s social mobility fifty years ago and now, is that the opportunities children had to be socially mobile really depend on how wealthy and socially mobile or not wealthy and socially mobile their parents were. In the past fathers would hand down their business to their son, but if a family did not have a successful business to hand down their children would have a more difficult time being socially mobile. Likewise, if parents cannot afford their child’s education the child is more likely to struggle with becoming socially mobile because it will be more difficult to find a well-paying job without a degree or having the skills necessary for the job. Unequal opportunity and income inequality is what separates people from the ability to be socially
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