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04/05/2013

The American dream may be dying too

The BBC's Great British Class survey which my colleague Jennifer Quinn wrote about resonates in the U.S. where the American dream may not be alive and well.

American social mobility is even lower than it is in the U.K., observes writer and broadcaster Michael Goldfarb. 

“It's been clear since the 1970s that the class system was becoming more inflexible,” he writes on the BBC’s website. Goldfarb's father was a professor in Philadelphia and kids from such backgrounds found it easier to coast and still succeed than bright kids from lower income families.

“He made a very nice living. Like seeks like, and we lived in a neighbourhood of doctors, lawyers, executives, stockbrokers and successful entrepreneurs. You had to work hard to fall out of that class.”

He continues: “Plenty of my school fellows did just OK in high school, went to second-rank universities, where they majored in having a good time, crammed for the LSAT (law school test) and squeezed into second-rank law schools or business schools. They emerged on the other side with a credential that allowed them to make a pretty good living without putting themselves out too much. A young man from an inner-city school in Philadelphia who took the same relaxed approach to study and career would never have made it to law school or business school.” 

Any more evidence needed that America has a class system? The Wall Street Journal only yesterday mused on what a pen says about its owner: “In an age dominated by tech gadgets such as cellphones, a pen can still make a potent statement.”

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at the Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour


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