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Thursday, November 24, 2011
 
Something Dumb from the New York Times What a shock, right? An economics blogger talks about the surprising (to her) result of a poll:
Two of my colleagues have alluded to a recent Pew Research Center report on American exceptionalism, paying particular attention to the fact that Americans are more likely to say their culture is superior to others than are people in Germany, Spain, Britain or France.
Well, sounds like the residents of all five countries are correct. US culture is superior.
One finding of the report that received little attention, however, was about cultural attitudes toward success. Of the five nationalities polled, Americans were least likely to believe that success in life was determined by forces outside our control.
But she points out a flaw in this worldview:
These findings are particularly interesting when juxtaposed with a separate report from the Pew Economic Mobility project. That report, which examined economic and social mobility in 10 Western countries, found that Americans actually appear to have less control over their success in life than their counterparts do. In particular, the educational attainment of a person’s parents — a factor usually determined before that person’s birth — seems to matter more for mobility in the United States.
No surprise, she looks at it from the standpoint of "the glass is half empty". The other way to look at it is that if you want your kids to be a success, you should go to college. But the big laugh comes at the end:
As Richard Wilkinson suggested in a recent TED Talk, if you want to live the American dream — and have greater control over your own likelihood of success — you should probably move to Denmark, where the poor have a better chance of moving up in the world.
I do have a couple of questions about that: 1. How many poor families have the option of moving to Denmark? 2. How do the Danes feel about taking in the poor?
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