MAPPED: Where US children born into the bottom 20% have the best chance of making the top 20%

If you were born in the early 1940s, it was practically a guarantee that you would end up better off than your parents.

92% of Americans born in 1940, for instance, went on to move up the socio-economic ladder, according to reporting from National Public Radio. Since the mid-20th century, however, that figure has dropped off significantly. Only half of Americans born in 1985, for instance, ended up doing better than their parents.

Rising income equality and stagnant wages have made it difficult for people to rise up. This is especially the case for children born into poverty. This new reality was illustrated on a map featured in Bank of America Merril Lynch’s most recent edition of its TransformingWorld Atlas, which uses maps to illustrate global economic, political and investment trends.

The map, which breaks the US into its more than 3,000 counties, shows where US children born into the bottom 20% of incomes have the best chance of making it to the top 20% bracket.

“The probability of moving from the bottom to the top income stream is just 7% in the US,” according to the bank.

According to the map, children in the Great Plains region, which is in the middle of the US, are more likely to go from rags to riches than children in the American South. In the latter region, children in the majority of counties have less than a 5% chance of making it to the top.

Have a look:


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