Essay American Dream Still Alive

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This means that prosperous locales give poor children a disproportionate boost, on the one hand, but also that growing up in a distressed community disadvantages them relatively more, as well.

Kids from wealthier backgrounds, by contrast, appear to have a stronger bulwark against negative effects of place.

President Trump carried three-quarters of these counties in the 2016 election, but counties that Clinton carried encompassed 57 percent of the population in the group.

More than any other category, this opportunity-rich swathe of America bridged the partisan divide in 2016.

Of course, counties are only imperfect proxies for communities and the neighborhoods where kids grow up.

“Spatial inequality” scores included in the DCI provide an even more fine-grained look at within-county dynamics. Now, EIG offers its latest contribution to the discussion.We have joined county-level data from our Distressed Communities Index (DCI) with the economic mobility estimates created by Raj Chetty’s team at Harvard’s Equality of Opportunity Project (EOP) to examine the relationship between economic well-being (as measured by the DCI) and economic opportunity (as measured by the EOP) in communities across the United States.Where the economy thrives, people thrive, and vice versa.The coincidence of growth, mobility, and prosperity in these locales proves that the American Dream is more than a mirage.Many Americans have voted with their feet and gravitated towards these idealized locales.The category includes many urban and suburban population centers, and in total 71 million people reside in these places where the American Dream seems to be alive and well.The results are therefore best interpreted as whether, for example, a county that is prospering today has a history (or not) of boosting economic mobility.Whether the county delivers on or defies past performance remains to be seen.Adding population data to EOP’s county estimates, we find that prosperity and mobility (as well as distress and immobility) are most strongly correlated in rural areas—counties with under 100,000 people.Prosperous rural areas can provide a significantly greater boost to children than even prosperous urban areas, suggesting that the quintessential engine of economic mobility may not be the urban melting pots of Horatio Alger-style myth, but rather the small town communities of the Upper Midwest.


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