Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

09 January 2014

Increasing Mobility of Low Income People to Higher Incomes

I am going to comment on an article by W. Bradford Wilcox posted at the American Enterprise Institute on income mobility in the United States.  He has presented some data of Harvard economist Raj Chetty, a principal investigator at the Equality of Opportunity Project, based on local variations of local income growth, the share of single mother households locally, and local government spending.  The mobility is question here was actually one with a very high bar.  A child born into a lowest quintile household has to be a highest quintile earner by age 30.  Most highest quintile earners are well into their careers and tend to be much older 30.

Wilcox has fit these data sets with linear functions.  The data are interesting, though the linear fits are problematic for two of his three plots of the data.  In light of the recent renewal of Obama's redistributionist efforts, only partially and even falsely carried out by ObamaVaporCare, this is a good time to talk about what really affects income mobility.

The first plot, which is reasonably fit with a linear function, is:

This is not surprising.  Where income growth is strong in America, labor is more valued and those who want to work hard have many opportunities to make money.  Of course Obama's anti-business policies, high energy costs, excessive regulations, and the costs of ObamaVaporCare decrease income growth and are therefore likely to decrease income mobility on the national scale.  Nonetheless, local government efforts to suppress the free market will still leave a strong imprint on local mobility variations.  There is no question that it is much easier to start a business in some areas than in others, as an example with important affects on mobility.

Another critical effect on income mobility is:

Clearly an increasing share of households run by a single mother has a very negative effect on income mobility for their children.  The linear fit here is nonsense.  The proper fit is with a hyperbolic curve, which indicates a much stronger impact of single mother households on income mobility than a linear effect.  It has long been understood that there was a strong effect, but this data makes it very clear how strong and dominant that effect is.  It is well-understood that entitlement programs tend to increase the number of single mother households, so most of Obama's likely efforts to decrease income inequality will likely make it worse.  One of the many impacts of his policies already has been to increase energy costs, which really hurts those with little income badly.  How local government welfare programs are run will have a big impact on the number of single mother households.  Generally, the more money spent on such programs, the more single mother households.

The third plot is:

The thought here was that local government spending supports education, so with better local education systems, income mobility would be increased.  There probably is some such effect in some school districts, but we also know that generally increased spending on schools does not really correlate well with greater learning.  In some school districts, the people do have a high regard for education, but in many other districts it is just another labor union entitlement program to gain the teachers union votes.  Many inner city school systems are well-funded, but horribly managed.  So it is not surprising that the data does not follow any definable dependence in this case.  The data more nearly resembles a hand print with the palm pressed firmly and the fingers splayed out and pressing lightly.  Indeed, the thumb is nearly straight up, indicating that one can get virtually any result from spending $2,000 per capita on income mobility.  Clearly, neither local government spending nor local education spending is the primary effect on income mobility.  This is not to say that real learning is not important.  That I am sure is a critical effect.  But, sad to say, real learning is not something Obama is interested in.

Income mobility depends upon the opportunity to earn a living, which is heavily dependent upon government policies not shutting down or over-regulating opportunities.  Because freedom of contract is heavily suppressed in the USA, many opportunities to earn are decreased.  One such egregious way to decrease opportunity to earn and to develop a career is to increase the minimum wage.  Doing so hurts the under-educated the most by keeping them from getting their first jobs.  This keeps them from acquiring skills and from establishing a record as a worthy employee.  It forces many to turn to crime.  The high costs of providing health insurance under ObamaCare and the minimum wage increases that took effect just before and during the start of the Great Socialist Recession have already had a disproportionate impact on ensuring the unemployment and part-time employment of those in the lowest quintile income households.  Obama has been no friend to the small businesses that often hire young people and give them their first opportunity to prove themselves.

It is another Obama farce to claim that he is going to do something to increase income mobility and to reduce income inequality.  As always, he will cause effects opposed to those he claims he will achieve.  Of course his main purpose in this income inequality rhetoric is to distract the American People from the disasters he has already caused in the economy and with our medical care.

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