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Want to Achieve the ‘American Dream’? You Might Have Better Luck in Canada

An economist who quantified the idea of the “American Dream” found that it is twice as easy to achieve in Canada than in the United States.

Stanford Economist Raj Chetty’s study, Improving Opportunities for Economic Mobility: New Evidence and Policy Lessons, published by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, defines the “American Dream” as the statistical probability that a child born to parents in the bottom fifth on the income distribution scale ends up in the top fifth.

Children in the United States have a 7.5% chance of achieving that economic mobility, according to the study. By comparison, Canadian children have a 13.5% probability. The probability for children in the United Kingdom was 9%, and in Denmark, 11.7%.

But Chetty notes that the low probability for children in the United States varies by area of the country. In San Jose, Calif., there is a 12.9% chance that a child will achieve the American Dream, which is nearly on par with Canada. But in cities like Charlotte, N.C. and Baltimore, Md., that number dips to 4.4% and 3.5%, respectively.