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CHETTY: So think about upward mobility in the context of the classic rags-to-riches kind of notion. Suppose you're a kid growing up in a low-income family, say the bottom fifth of the income distribution. What are your odds of reaching the top fifth of the income distribution, making the leap from the bottom to the top? So it turns out, if you look at the U.S. as a whole, that number is 7.5 percent. Seven-and-a-half percent of kids who start out in a relatively low income family will end up reaching the top fifth on average.
But if you then break that data down and ask, how does that vary depending upon which state or which county you're growing up in, you see that it actually varies dramatically. So in certain parts of the U.S. - for example, in rural Iowa or much of the Great Plains or certain cities, like Salt Lake City or San Francisco, for example - your odds of rising from the bottom fifth to the top fifth are something like 14 or 15 percent, twice as high as the national average.
In contrast, if you look at the other end of the spectrum - look at cities like Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Ga., or more generally, much of the southeastern United States or places in the industrial Midwest, like Detroit or Cleveland - your odds of rising from the bottom to the top are below 5 percent, sometimes even only 3.5 or 4 percent. 2b1af7f3a8