Posts tagged with middle class

#### Chances of US Blacks, Hispanics, Poor, Women, Men, Whites, Rich to reach the middle class by middle age.

by Isabel Sawhill, Scott Winship, and Kerry Searle Grannis

SWG define the US middle class as 3 times the poverty level. That’s

• at least \$35 000 / year for a single person
• or at least \$71 000 / year for a family of four (multiple family members can work toward that).

Middle age they take to begin at 40.

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You can also see the 40% who do not make it to the middle class in Catherine Mulbrandon’s picture:

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SWG find “rungs” on the ladder to prosperity, such that within their dataset,

• achieving today’s rung increases the odds of achieving tomorrow’s rung,
• and failing to achieve today’s rung decreases the odds of achieving tomorrow’s rung.

(The weakest link is from basic reading & maths skills + social & emotional skills → to high school graduation + non-criminality. The strongest link is from acceptable pre-reading & pre-maths + school-appropriate behaviour → to basic reading & maths + social-emotional skills.)

That is a Markov or AR(1) at each step, but changing 2×2 matrices (pass-through probabilities) each time.

The poor outcomes for low-birthweight black poor youths are then understood, within the paper, as the composite effect of passing through the several gates.

For example low birth weight, poor parents of the wrong race starts the child off in the disadvantaged category. 40% of those are off track when school starts. Then 55% of (not just the `0-disadvantaged ∩ 1-disadvantaged`, but all of the) stage-1-disadvantaged continue to advance to the next stage on the losing track.

In this way the eventual low success-rate of the adults from poor families is seen as the product of a succession of gates.

In matrix terms each 2×2 matrix “shuffles beads from gate to gate”. For example the first matrix is

$\dpi{300} \bg_white \begin{bmatrix} 72\% & 28\% \\ 59 \% & 41\% \end{bmatrix}$

and the product (composite) of the first two is this matrix product:

$\dpi{200} \bg_white \large \begin{bmatrix} .72 & .28 \\ .59 & .41 \end{bmatrix} \cdot \begin{bmatrix} .82 & .18 \\ .45 & .55 \end{bmatrix}$

In the product matrix the red entry is the fraction of babies born disadvantaged (`0-loser`) who end up `2-disadvantaged` after 2 matrices `M₁bull;M₂` have been applied—entering middle childhood.

$\dpi{200} \bg_white \large \begin{bmatrix} .72 & .28 \\ .59 & .41 \end{bmatrix} \cdot \begin{bmatrix} .82 & .18 \\ .45 & .55 \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} \colorbox{red}{\color{white}{71\%}} & 29\% \\ 67\% & 33\% \end{bmatrix}$

If you wanted to compute the overall numbers from the bar chart at the top you would need also a starting vector `X₀` saying how many babies start off already at a disadvantage. (The fraction who don’t start off disadvanaged is not a free parameter.)

(Source: brookings.edu)

hi-res

by Rachel Johnson, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Microsimulation Model

Reading about the early meanings of the phrase “middle class” it clearly refers to:

…someone with so much capital that they could rival nobles….. professionals, managers, and senior civil servants.

and not to “the broad shoulders" holding up society, which should properly be called "the working class".

In other words, not “normal” or “typical” people at all (typical being \$21k/year)—the “middle class” could accurately refer in the U.S. only to those making over \$100k/year. I.e., “possessing significant human capital” which allows them not to just have a job at a successful corporation and be a line-item on that corporation’s budget, but to extract significant wages from the economy.

(Source: The New York Times)

hi-res

This video is 13 minutes of traffic accidents in Russia and totally amazing.

1. Show this to your teenagers before they take the wheel. If it doesn’t scare the p*ss out of them—or even worse, if it excites them—no more Grand Theft Auto and hide the car keys.
2. Next time you complain about public services, boring orderliness and “safety first”, the desireability of risk, Panglossian everything-optimal economics, or forget how relatively safe you are on your German freeways, …. watch this.

As someone else remarked (can’t remember the source), the difference between Somalia and the USA is the stuff everybody in the US completely forgets is even possible.
3. Notice how many of the accidents are caused by people trying to zoom ahead of everyone else—off the side of the road, cutting down a tree without noticing it will land on somebody else, trying to pass on the left or on the right or across the lane. Is your time really that important relative to everyone else’s, people?
4. Assumptions. You think you can make assumptions, like that someone won’t fell a tree on your head, or a military jet won’t fly over your head, that someone won’t spill military equipment near you, or that people from the other lane (or off the road) won’t drive completely orthogonal and attack your car. Sometimes those assumptions are wrong.
5. How many of these people do you think actually accepted the blame on themselves for their reckless actions?

via @Alea_, @felixsalmon