Business, Economics and Jobs

Upward mobility based mostly on parental wealth, a new study suggests


A new study says that upward mobility of children is based foremost on parental wealth.


Chung Sung-Jun

Listen to the speeches at either the Democratic or Republican conventions and undoubtedly you'll hear stories about the down on his or her luck worker who somehow succeeded in the end.

Rags to riches is a constant theme in American life and even the foundation of the so-called "American Dream."

Yet, that dream, mostly based on the notion of upward mobility and economic advancement, is far more determined by parental wealth than most people believe, a new report says.

Fabian Pfeffer, a sociologist at the University of Michigan compared the economic mobility of people in three countries: Germany, the United States and Sweden.

According to ITwire, Pfeffer looked at parental wealth, education, income and occupation to determine how children succeed financially and educationally.

His findings said that all three countries saw a heavy dependance on parental wealth as a way to success for their offspring - far more than other factors.

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"Wealth not only fulfills a purchasing function, allowing families to buy homes in good neighborhoods and send their children to costly schools and colleges, for example, but it also has an insurance function, offering a sort of private safety net that gives children a very different set of choices as they enter the adult world," Pfeffer said in a statement, according to Medical Daily.

"Parental wealth also serves as a private safety net that not even the more generous European public programs and social services seem to provide."

In short, rich parents can shield their children during tough times.

The findings were presented at a conference on inequality across multiple generations being held Sept. 13-14 at the University of Michigan.

The report has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.