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STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

How an escalator explains "absolute" versus "relative" economic mobility in America

Here's a bit more information to help explain yesterday's story Five facts about achieving the American Dream. We've gotten some comments from listeners about how to interpret our five facts, and one of the biggest areas of confusion concerns the distinction between "absolute" and "relative" measures economic mobility. 

Both of these measures are important to understanding the American Dream, but each measure tells a different story about whether people are able to achieve the Dream. And those stories are in conflict. In absolute terms, most Americans make more money than their parents. In relative terms, people at the bottom of the economic ladder are less likely to move up (these are Fact #2 and Fact #3 from yesterday's story). 

I'll admit, when I first started researching economic mobility, I also struggled with understanding "absolute" vs. "relative" mobility. So I wanted to share a video from the Pew Economic Mobility Project that helped explain it for me:

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.
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