Authors who advocate government action in order to address income inequality and upward mobility are fond of their statistics. An example from Foroohar:
The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project has found that if you were born in 1970 in the bottom one-fifth of the socioeconomic spectrum in the U.S., you had only about a 17% chance of making it into the upper two-fifths.
Such figures are meant to inform a social diagnostic which too often prescribes more subsidy of the poor. However, that prescription takes a dim view of the human condition and fails to account for how 17% of children born in 1970 beat the odds and rose from the bottom one-fifth of the spectrum to the upper two-fifths. It wasn’t chance, as the figure cited out of context suggests. It wasn’t the mechanical effect of flipping society’s bureaucratic levers. There is no magic formula of government action which propels people from one class to another.
The key to upward mobility, to improving the quality of life, is the acceptance and application of certain ideas. At first glance, they may seem overly simplistic or blatantly obvious. Yet so few actually implement them that it is worth our time to review them. To that end, here are 5 ideas you need in order to rise from poverty to the middle class.