19 countries where the kids of the wealthy are most likely to end up poor

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19 countries where the kids of the wealthy are most likely to end up poor

parent talking to child before going to school

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  • Although parents want their children to achieve more success than themselves, there is a chance that their children will earn less than them.
  • The World Bank released a report in 2018 that looked at intergenerational educational mobility.
  • Using the probability that a child from a family in the top quarter of educational attainment ends up in the bottom half from the World Bank's database, we ranked the countries with higher rates of downward mobility than the US.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Everyone wants their child to move up the social ladder to achieve the American Dream of being more economically successful than themselves. However, it is also possible to move downward.

According to 2017 data released by the Pew Research Center, 58% of Americans believe today's generation will be economically worse off than their parents. And for many families in the middle and upper classes, there is a serious possibility of that happening.

The World Bank released a report in 2018 regarding educational mobility across generations - changes in the level of educational attainment achieved by a child compared to their parents - and how it affects economic mobility. The report used family data between the 1940s and the 1980s from the World Bank's Global Database on Intergenerational Mobility.

According to the report, educational mobility can in part be used to measure economic mobility "because education tends to be a strong predictor of lifetime earnings." However, the World Bank notes there are limitations using education as a factor for determining economic mobility: variation in the kinds of skills children have access to learning, living circumstances, ethnicity and race, parents' job connections, and other factors play a role in these mobilities and their relationship.

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In the US, 20.1% of children born into families in the top quarter of educational attainment in the 1980s ended up in the bottom half. Those children were born to highly-educated parents, and ended up as adults with a lower level of educational attainment, suggesting a slide down the socioeconomic ladder for these families.

Of the 35 high-income, developed countries included in the World Bank database, 19 had a higher chance for children born into a family in the top quarter of educational attainment to move into the bottom half than in the US.

Variability in downward mobility can also be seen within the US. According to social mobility data from The Opportunity Atlas data set written about in the Washington Post, there is downward economic mobility for middle-income families in the Southeast and the Southwest.

The World Bank data suggests a silver lining, however. Although downward mobility is happening among families at the top, children born into families from families with a lower socioeconomic status are also moving up in the world.

Of the 19 countries with a higher rate downward mobility for highly-educated families than the US, 17 had high rates of children born into a families where parents are part of the bottom half of educational attainment move up to the top. That is, although moving down the social ladder is prevalent in some of the developed countries, there is hope for moving upward and consequently improving their living situation. That suggests that many of the countries on this list are experiencing a more general degree of socioeconomic flow between generations, rather than a specific decline at the top.

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Here are the 19 high-income countries in the World Bank's database where a high probability of children born in the 1980s into the top quarter of educational attainment ended up in the bottom half, ranked from lowest to highest:

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19. Poland: 20.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

19. Poland: 20.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

18. Austria: 21.6% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

18. Austria: 21.6% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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17. Ireland: 22.1% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

17. Ireland: 22.1% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

16. Hungary: 22.4% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

16. Hungary: 22.4% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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15. France: 22.5% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

15. France: 22.5% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

14. Norway: 22.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

14. Norway: 22.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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13. Chile: 23.3% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

13. Chile: 23.3% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

12. Czech Republic: 25.1% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

12. Czech Republic: 25.1% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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11. Croatia: 26.3% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

11. Croatia: 26.3% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

10. Italy: 26.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

10. Italy: 26.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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9. United Kingdom: 27.0% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

9. United Kingdom: 27.0% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

8. Estonia: 27.6% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

8. Estonia: 27.6% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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7. Germany: 27.9% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

7. Germany: 27.9% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

6. Spain: 29.1% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

6. Spain: 29.1% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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5. Portugal: 29.2% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

5. Portugal: 29.2% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

4. Australia: 30.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

4. Australia: 30.8% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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3. Switzerland: 32.0% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

3. Switzerland: 32.0% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

2. South Korea: 33.3% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

2. South Korea: 33.3% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.
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1. Israel: 33.6% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.

1. Israel: 33.6% of children with parents in the top quarter ended up in the bottom half.