Economic mobility is significantly and increasingly influenced by parental economic class and has been falling in all 50 states and across all income levels. The largest declines have been experienced by the shrinking middle class. Understanding this empirical fact is essential to addressing its more obvious consequences, which include food and housing insecurity and troubling trends in physical and mental health.
When people’s basic needs are consistently and reliability met, they are in a better position to pursue economic mobility, that is individual or intergenerational movement from one income bracket to another. Conversely, people experiencing economic insecurity are held back by not having the means to cover the basic costs of food, shelter, medical care, transportation and more. This policy snapshot summarizes drivers of economic mobility and offers strategies for state lawmakers to revive the “American Dream.”