US wealth mobility in one chart

Earlier I shared the Pew Economic Mobility Project’s latest findings on social mobility. The picture isn’t pretty. Kids born into the richest 20% are 10x more likely to wind up in the richest 20% as adults than kids born into the poorest 20%. Not surprisingly, the wealth mobility picture is just as bad:

In many ways, wealth immobility is simply a feature of income immobility. Those with more income have more ability to save that income and thereby accumulate wealth. Wealth still deserves separate treatment however because its dynamics are different. Wealth ownership is essentially ownership over productive resources and the future surpluses of production. Perversely, wealth ownership has profoundly disequalizing effects. Through investment, wealth begets more wealth which then begets more wealth still. The last group of people that need compounding, passive, unearned streams of income are the very rich. Yet, it is the very rich who has the most such streams.