Aug 28, 2014


I've been looking for this kind of data for a long time. This guy does a great job of helping to visualize it.

The real issue isn't distribution of wealth but the mobility you have among the the wealth distribution. Are there things you can do to move up the ladder or not. This doesn't really answer the question because it's all based on correlation but it's interesting nonetheless.

Basically it shows things we already know. Being black puts you at a disadvantage. Not having married parents puts you at a disadvantage.

The first thing I'm struck by is that while the presenter takes a dire view of the situation I was actually surprised at how mobile we are. It's not perfect but it's a lot better than I would have guessed.

I'm also surprised by the implications of this in the mirror view. Namely, since people have a decent amount of mobility from the bottom to the top, this implies that people at the top have a lot of mobility down. This is surprising. Because if you own a lot of assets then those assets can work for you (investment). The lower you go down on the ladder the less that option is available to you to the point where it works against you (debt). In fact that's part of why I had a previously dire view of the mobility measurement. Rich people in general have more means to remain rich and that should create friction.

The other thing that is strange but I'd have to look at the data is that whites have essentially frictionless mobility (pure random distribution). And blacks have frictionful mobility (high distribution on lower quintiles). This leaves the question who is picking up the slack? Do Hispanics or Asians have higher than average mobility? I don't know. But it's interesting.

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