American DreamEvery parent wants more for their child than they had for themselves. Ideally, each generation should move forward. But it's not a given in America. A middle class upbringing does not guarantee the same status over the course of a lifetime, finds a new study Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking up from the America Dream by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

A third of Americans raised in the middle class, those defined as being between the 30th and 70th percentiles of the income distribution, fall out of the middle as adults, according to the report. In the parent's generation, this definition of middle class roughly translates to income from about $32,900 to $64,000 in 2010 for a family with two adults and two children. For the children's generation, the income range was $53,900 to $110,000 for a family of four.

There are differences in the rates of downward mobility from the middle based on both family background and personal characteristics.

The report looked at downward mobility among black, white and Hispanic men and women raised in the middle class in three ways: the percentage that fall out of the middle class, the percentage that fall 20 or more percentiles below their parents' rank in the income distribution, and the percentage of those whose income is 20 or more percent below their parents.

If you were raised in a middle class family would you say...
I am much better off financially than my parents were.1 (25.0%)
I am about the same as they were.1 (25.0%)
I have not done as well as they have financially.1 (25.0%)
I am much, much worse than they were, help!1 (25.0%)
What did the Research Show?

Marital status, education, test scores and drug use have a strong influence on whether a middle-class child loses economic ground as an adult.

Marriage matters. Those who are divorced, widowed or separated are more likely to fall down the economic ladder than those who are married. Education helped. If men and women raised in a middle-class home obtain education after high school, they are less likely to be downwardly mobile.

Gender divides.
The report also finds a gender gap in downward mobility, but it is driven entirely by a disparity between white men and white women: 30% of white women fall out of the middle class, but only 21% of white men do.

Race counts most when it comes to men. Race is a factor in who falls out of the middle class, but only for men. According to the report, 38% of black men fall out of the middle, compared to 21% of white men. In contrast, white, black and Hispanic women are equally likely to drop out of the middle class.

"What was most surprising, was the fact that the racial gap in downward mobility is limited to black and white men," says Erin Currier, project manager for Pew's Economic Mobility Project,

Differences in average test scores for the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) which survey participants were asked to take, are the most important observable factor (of those considered in this report) that accounts for the large downward mobility gap between black men and white men, explains Currier.

Says Currier, "Every child should have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. We need policies that promote enrollment in and completion of post secondary education and to ensure that all children and teens have access to effective educational programs."

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January 17 2012 at 10:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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September 28 2011 at 1:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mighty wizard

I am a baby boomer.and back in the day when i was a kid most family's had 1 earner. dad went to work mom stayed home and raised the kids. Sometime during my adult life things changed and it became 2 earners per family mostly. This allowed us to keep buying homes and stay middle class. I pretict and I am already seeing this right now that its gonna take 3 or 4 earners to stay in the home and stay middle class. Adult children have to stay home now and help with the bills. The next step is these adult kids will have kids and we will have 3 generations living under 1 roof. Each generation will be living worse off than the one before it.

September 16 2011 at 6:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The working class has it much worse. Most of us in the middle class can afford to maintaion our family in fair condiotion.
With the movement of much of our basic industries to the third world there is massive unemployment among the
working class.
There has been much confusion between the middle class and middle income groups.

September 15 2011 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the super rich and the rich politcian let the middle class erode, this great country will fall just like all great empire before it. I see with my grandma's family that lost everything after the fall of the last Dynasty in China. They don't care today because they have a great life now. I perdict the internal conflict will happen between 100-150 years from now, because we are not at the bread line yet!

September 12 2011 at 11:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The real American Dream ,,,,,,,,,,,,Obama leaving the white house after the next election.

September 12 2011 at 8:11 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

I do not define the American Dream as having more stuff than the previous generation, "wanting more" what does that mean?

If I can teach my children anything it is to become self reliant...freedom and the American Dream is the ability to become what you want how you want when you this you get "things" but to be able to rely solely on your self without any ties to others (if you have ears to hear) that is the American Dream...why did people move west...because they wanted freedom to do as they felt best and not be hindered by government and dictators of society...

September 12 2011 at 6:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What a funny headline. The American middle class has slipped away already, forget their dream. 8 $ an hr jobs ...........Thanks to Congress, Pres Clinton (sighed NAFTA) and Corp. America..............greedy .#&%^%(&%. BUT WE MUST BLAME OURSELVES TOO. We bought into trickle down economics, FREE trade, etc, etc. Let's NOT elect anymore millionare congressmen, or ANY more incumbants.............we need common blue collar ppl that will PASS LAWS to help US.

September 12 2011 at 5:48 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to huffmans05's comment

They will all eventually go to the dark side too. Wave those green backs at them and watch the honey dipper truck show up to collect the campaign promises.

September 12 2011 at 6:13 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

No such thing as a blue collar politician. All we have is greenback politicians.

September 12 2011 at 6:22 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

The problem is that the middle class, made up of working people, are supporting the people who won't work. These are the people who are on food stamps and welfare. I have no problem with people who cannot take care of themselves and must rely on the programs for their daily living. I have a big problem with able-bodied, younger people who are sponging off of and using the entitlement programs that I, an average working person, pay for. ENOUGH!

September 12 2011 at 5:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
LEE Resolution

the Obama regime notwithstanding, the middle class in America never had it so good ...

September 12 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply