The Withering California Dream, by the Numbers

The California dream isn’t dead. It just upped and moved to South Dakota.

Less than half of people born in California in 1980 are making more money than their parents did as young adults. That’s the lowest percentage of children out-earning their parents that California has seen since at least 1940.

By contrast, 62 percent of people born in South Dakota in 1980 out-earn their parents.  That’s the highest percentage for any state in the country.

Those figures come from a study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty and several prominent co-authors, whose widely publicized work on intergenerational income mobility—the likelihood children will fare better financially than their parents—has transformed what we know about the data behind the American dream.

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