How rich kids get ahead: 4 striking findings

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  • HowDoYouDo Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 5:21 p.m.

    Someone should do a study where the findings are white males are sick of being shamed and that they owe someone else. We live in a pretty great country where your opportunities are endless, even overcoming conditions that you were born into or overcoming stupid mistakes that you made. In my comment above, I mentioned that the majority of my class was Asian, but I did not mention that the majority was also female. Many of them as children had little at the end of The Vietnam War.

    Two decades ago I wanted to be accepted into the physical therapy school at The University of Utah. About 200 applied each year, but only 24 were accepted (12 males and 12 females). Of the applicants, about 150 were white males. If you were a female or minority with ambition, you had a many times higher chance of being accepted. I became discouraged at my odds and went for a different healthcare profession.

    Stop your whining, finger-pointing, and over-generalizing and go out and accomplish what you would like to do. Also know it will not be handed to you and will require a lot of hard work and determination.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 17, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    @ jcm53byu

    Thank you for saying that. I decided against including in my comment the fact that my acquaintance was white and male at a time when those two characteristics were more explicitly favored by our society. My thought was that this would be too easily dismissed as carping, when it's simply a fact. White males were and still are favored (though less so now than in the past).

    Two more features we don't choose, but that have significant implications for our futures.

  • HowDoYouDo Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    I like most of the smart comments posted here. I attended a professional school in the health care field where 70 of the 100 students were Asian. Many of them were Vietnamese that came to the U.S. with nothing in the 1970's at the end of the Vietnam War. Their parents worked hard in donut shops or other similar low-paying jobs while the kids worked hard in school. Now those kids are making big incomes.

    Even if a child in poverty only achieves a much smaller percentage of this above example, they can still pull themselves out of poverty, in most cases. If a strong desire and work ethic are there, it can be done.

  • AbidnDude SEATTLE, WA
    Aug. 17, 2014 2:30 p.m.

    Many of us rationalize our acceptance of a social order that keeps people in poverty. We assert that the poor are responsible for their own situation. They’re just not working hard enough, not staying in school, having children out of wedlock, etc. The study contradicts this belief by concluding that those who start life with advantages of access to jobs, relative wealth and stable families overwhelmingly maintain a higher level of economic success than those who start life in poverty. The “opportunity” playing field is very far from level. This is not surprising, but most responses, instead of considering what we can do to level the "opportunity" playing field, try to reinforce the case that the poor are responsible for their own problems. Instead, we should be recognizing that 1) Luck of birth determines most of your outcome, 2) the rate of movement up the economic ladder is pretty small, and 3) most importantly, the opportunity to work your way up the socio-economic ladder is NOT a morally adequate response to poverty and unemployment when we acquiesce to a social structure designed to maintain a highly unequal distribution of wealth and income. We hate when our moral cop-outs are challenged.

  • 5th gen Utahn cedar city, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    The consensus here seems to be that, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, poor folk do not escape their lot in life because of their unwillingness to work hard or live a morally just way of life.

  • jcm53byu ogden, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    This is really mostly about race and that makes us white folks uncomfortable. We don't like to talk about white privilege but whether we admit it or not, it exists. This obviously isn't the first article to gather data about it (for instance, Pager et al. 2009 found, all other factors being the same, a white man with a felon had a better chance than a black man of getting a callback when applying for the same job). Data have been gathered for more than half a century and researchers continue to analyze it and come to pretty much the same conclusion; we live in a racialized society that benefits one group of people to the detriment of all others. It is hard for us to accept because it goes so contrary to the narrative we want to believe so badly.

    For those that are GENUINELY interested in understanding this, there are literally stacks of books and on the subject. A good place to start is Googling- Tim Wise pathology of white privilege. If we can get past defensive knee-jerk reactions, we really can make America the meritocracy we believed it was as children.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 17, 2014 1:05 p.m.

    An acquaintance who went from poor to wealthy attributed his success to hard work, too. He did put in the effort, but were there other factors at play? Perhaps being born:

    1) Intelligent and ambitious;
    2) To stable parents with a sustainable income (his father was a government employee); and
    4) Into a community with quality, taxpayer-funded schools, K-12 and college.

    Not to mention the GI Bill that helped finance his post-graduate studies.

    How much of that was his doing? And yet he was one of the anti-government folks who want to dismantle so much of the infrastructure that factored into his rise. And he was swift to blame others who happened to be born into less favorable circumstances, with lesser intellect and other gifts, and with obstacles he never faced.

    I’m tired of people patting themselves on the back as if they did it all on their own while simultaneously condemning others who face obstacles they never did. The truth is that we do precious little of it ourselves. The bulk comes from genetics, environment, and the work of those who preceded us.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Aug. 17, 2014 12:11 p.m.

    Liberals want to make everything about race. The most important tings are not considered. What brings success is hard work, intelligence, good homes & families, and a little luck. The survey is geared to present the liberal view on life, but not the real one.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 11:29 a.m.

    It's funny how the left demonizes the rich but fail to realize that Obama won 8 of the 10 richest counties in the USA. It is true that the poorest people live in the big cities, but so do the richest people. Look at some of the wealthiest people: Hollywood actors, NBA/NFL athletes. They support Obama. To say that the "evil, greedy rich Republicans" are seeking to destroy the "poor, hard-working generous Democrats" is an over-generalization that does no good. And as others have pointed out, how does making sure that the rich fail really help the poor? Were the poorest in communist Soviet Union better off than the poorest in the USA?

    Other people also bring up good points about why people end up poor. It's not necessarily that someone says "I am going to be poor" and it ends up that way. It often happens because of the lifestyle that they live and the choices they make. Many people live below their means, and their children pick up on that lifestyle. Also, as DN Subscriber pointed out, lifestyles that lead one to succeed in school translate to succeeding in life.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 9:44 a.m.

    Life is full of choices, and the bad choices made by many people doom them to a life of poverty, not the fact that someone else was born into a wealthy family.

    The article features a lot of correlations, but correlation is not causation.

    Missing are the numbers on vital factors such as:

    Percentages of the poor and wealthy who:
    a. Bothered to show up for classes at the free K-12 schools open to everyone
    b. Bothered to do homework K-12
    c. Were encouraged or expected to do well in K-12 and college
    d. Were expected to earn their own money as a child vs. depend on handouts
    e. Had a child out of wedlock
    f. Had a child before having a job that would support a family
    g. Stayed away from drugs

    Many mired in poverty did not decide "to stay poor" but decided to not attend school, had no expectations of performing well, decided that welfare was easier than work, or had children while unmarried and unable to support them. Therefore still ending up in poverty.

    In short, liberal welfare programs reward bad choices and kill the incentives for advancement.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Aug. 17, 2014 6:39 a.m.

    @ManInTheMiddle: That's just brilliant! Your inferred deduction is so overly simple it's hard to believe no one has thought of it before. Those in poverty simply don't work hard to improve their lot in life. That just has to be the answer. How could it be anything else?

  • 1Reader Sunnyvale, CA
    Aug. 16, 2014 1:28 p.m.

    Okay, fascinating:
    - 4% moved up; isn't that a good success? 2.4% moved down; isn't that tragic? Since their parents had some money, is it supposed to seem fair that their children are falling--and we don't care about that?
    - We invest trillions into education, but only 4% of poor kids get a Bachelor's--when that seems to be almost the only goal of higher ed. institutions. This is simply bad management.
    - The study doesn't indicate who's actually applying, extracurricular competencies/experience, or job performance. Those factors matter more than race, sex, and income.
    - Relationships matter.
    - Did any woman even *seek* an 'industrial or construction job'? Quite possibly not.
    - So family integrity, monogamy, and enduring relationships matter--and will to their children.
    - Baltimore's got problems.
    - Lastly, the world is not made of "blacks" and "whites", nor is America. The world is every shade of brown. What about most of the world that are Asian, and what about Hispanics who outnumber Blacks in the US--do we care about them too? We should stop looking at skin color as a very simple way to explain everything.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Aug. 16, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    Yep. It isn't about the money they have, it is about the expectations they have for their kids. There are so many scholarships and opportunities for ANY kid to go to college. It is just whether or not they are expected to go that makes ALL the difference.

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    Aug. 16, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    In the US, the median income of Asians is BY FAR greater than the median income of Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics.
    Hard work pays off. Period.

  • DHuber Palmyra, NY
    Aug. 16, 2014 9:36 a.m.

    I question his sample group. Only 13% of Americans are African-American. A few more percent self-identify as Bi-racial. By watching sports, Sesame Street, crime reports and Obama we have been given the impression African are a major percentage of Americans. They are not. If the study was conducted in Baltimore it is likely the sample includes a much higher percentage of African -Americans. So what does this study tell us about communities that are closer racially to the 13% norm? Does this apply to us?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Aug. 16, 2014 7:17 a.m.

    "Expectations can be self fulfilling or they can be self defeating. "

    Exactly. What a kids believe is possible makes a big difference in what a kill will strive for. If their family has always been poor, they are far more likely to settle for a life of poverty... it is what is sadly expected. And the inverse applies to kids from well of families.

  • Idahoan138 Pocatello, ID
    Aug. 15, 2014 11:00 p.m.

    . . . The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature...Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world.

    (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1985, pp. 5-6)

  • the greater truth Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 15, 2014 6:36 p.m.

    The expectations that come from your parents and family, and even peers, is all important.

    The richer you are the higher the expectations you get from your parent and others, and that have of your self.

    And vice versa.

    the poorer you are the lower the expectation you have of yourself, and the lower the expectation you get from your family and others.

    Having lived with the poor and rich I know this is true. It is psychologically quite a different environment.

    Expectations can be self fulfilling or they can be self defeating.

    To break this chain,

    everyone needs to have high expectations of them selves, and have high expectation of others.

    Just because you are poor does not mean you can not have high expectations of what you can achieve.

  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    Aug. 15, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    "keep voting for people and policies that help the already-rich have more advantages, but we neglect to improve the lot of our poorest, least advantaged."

    Housing, welfare, food stamps, Pell grants, tax refunds....

    The "least advantaged" don't get help to improve?

  • gee-en Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 15, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    The study seems fascinating, but I have to wonder if this study says more about Baltimore than it does about the USA in general.
    I would be more interested if there were similar but larger studies across the entire spectrum of the country, or if someone could somehow extrapolate the data to the US population at large.
    For what it's worth, I grew up extremely poor (like one meal a day poor, living in small run down apartment poor, single mom raising two kids by herself with zero family help poor) but education was highly valued and we all got college degrees and are all middle-class-ish now. I'm not saying I'm super smart or super rich...I am mainly saying that, by my observations and by my experiences, the opportunities in this country are nearly limitless.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Aug. 15, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    "by age 28, 41 percent of white men and 49 percent of black men had a criminal conviction."

    I think point number 5 is that white middle class families also had more means to get their kids out of trouble, when they get in trouble, as evidenced by the ratios of people in our prisons. The numbers just don't add up. Here in Durham, we had the notorious Duke LaCrosse case... which highlighted that having good lawyers made a huge difference when you had over reaching district attorneys. Perhaps justice is slightly color blind now... but she surely recognizes the color green and it absolutely impacts the outcomes of people who enter the judicial system.

  • Feliz Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 15, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    Ralph is a classic example of how the left just doesn't get it. The left is under the erroneous impression that for the poor to succeed, the rich must fail or road blocks should be put in their way to stifle their progress.

    In all honesty I bet that most republicans would be willing to support some wealth redistribution policies to help the poor and under privileged provided that their was more accountability. The problem is most of the welfare policies are just free handouts that create an entitled mentality. The sad part about all of this is if our economy were to ever fail, the poor will suffer the most as there will be no one to take care of them.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 15, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    High School is dumbed down enough, that if you show up occasionally or make an effort to make up a grade you can graduate. Community colleges have open enrollment policies. There are many Universities that will take the C and D students. So even when you put in very little effort through high school, you still have options to move up. It's a matter of getting off your butt. Learning what options there are. Such as grants, loans etc. The trouble is low-income people generally do not have parents with that knowledge. The kids don't pay attention at school or even ask questions about opportunities.

    So yes the affluent are interested in the success of their off spring. They teach them to network, give them opportunities to be interns, pay for college giving their kid more time to study and network on campus.

    I had to work 2-3 minimum wage jobs to get through my undergrad years. I didn't have time to network or do extra curricular activities. It was work, class, study for 5 years. Anyone that puts in effort can achieve what I did and move up. But it was a lot of work.

  • Ralph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 15, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    Thank you MNmanaof4. I'm glad there are exceptions to the rule that opportunity is afforded to those that can afford it.

    There is still some small amount of economic mobility that is possible in this great country.

    Strangely, in this country, we keep voting for people and policies that help the already-rich have more advantages, but we neglect to improve the lot of our poorest, least advantaged.

  • MNmamaof4 Lakeville, MN
    Aug. 15, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    I'm in the barrier-breaker category. My grandfather dropped out of 3rd grade, never learning to read or write. My father was the first high school graduate. I'm the only one in the family line to graduate from a 4 year university and find financial security.

    It's true that wealthy parents can pay for opportunities that poor families can't. But they may also coach their children differently, role model differently, passing on skills and attitudes vital to success. My parents encouraged college. They associated college with security and success without understanding how education is used to get there. I struggled to find employment after college that justified the time and money put into my education. I didn't understand networking, relocation, resumes and interviewing skills, etc. I thought that if I just got the degree, a career would naturally follow. We hear complaints from millennials under the same misconception. I was blessed with mentors who helped me eventually understand. Money and higher education are useful keys, but only if you know how to find the right door and unlock it.