Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility

Analyzing how the Accident of Birth Perpetuates Inequality

The accident of birth is a principal source of inequality in America today. American society is dividing into skilled and unskilled, and research suggests that the roots of this division lie in early childhood experiences. Kids born into disadvantaged environments are at much greater risk of being unskilled, having low lifetime earnings, and facing a range of personal and social troubles, including poor health, teen pregnancy, and crime. While we celebrate equality of opportunity, we live in a society in which birth is becoming fate. Predistribution–improving the early lives of disadvantaged children–is far more effective than simple redistribution in promoting social inclusion and, at the same time, at promoting economic efficiency and workforce productivity.