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How to move up the economic ladder

September 17, 2013|By Walter Hamilton
  • Going to college and getting married are two key ways to move up the economic ladder, a new study says.
Going to college and getting married are two key ways to move up the economic… (Brennan Linsley / Associated…)

How do you move up the economic ladder? Go to college and get married.

That's the upshot of a study released Tuesday that analyzes the major factors helping to push Americans up – or down – the economic scale.

The study by the Pew Charitable Trusts underscores the dramatic role that factors such as education play in what's known as economic mobility, the ability of people to financially surpass their parents.

Consider, for example, single black mothers.

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Among those with college degrees, 83% climbed the income ladder compared to their parents, according to the study. For those lacking diplomas, only 9% exceeded their parents.

Likewise, single black men and women without college degrees had the lowest levels of income and wealth. People who began at the bottom of the income pyramid experienced the least success in bettering their circumstances.

Family structure is also an important determinant of economic success.

Married couples showed consistently higher levels of income and wealth than single people, according to the study.

Regardless of education, at least half of white single men and women fell a rung on the income and wealth scales.


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