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Most Americans endorse the ideal of equal opportunity, and many interpret this ideal as requiring that children from different backgrounds have an equal chance of achieving economic success. Most Americans also recognize that children whose parents have “all the advantages” are more likely to prosper than children whose parents lack these advantages. Understanding this relationship has therefore become a prominent goal of social research, especially since the 1960s. This chapter investigates how the relationship between American family income during adulthood and family background during childhood changed from 1961 to 1999.


Harding, David J., Christopher Jencks, Leonard M. Lopoo, and Susan E. Mayer. "Family Background and Income in Adulthood, 1961–1999." The Inequality Reader: Contemporary and Foundational Readings in Race, Class, and Gender. Ed. David Grusky. Routledge, 2019.