Most people across the world view the United States as the premier place for climbing the ladder of success. Subsequently, people all over are searching for what we call “The American Dream”. However, studies show that the upward income mobility in the US is now less than other countries. According to Penn Institute for Urban Research, “A child born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution has a 7.5% change of reaching the top fifth of the income distribution in the U.S., far lower than peer developed countries” (Chetty, 2014). The idea of upward mobility refers to moving up in social class and is measured by an increase in earnings and wealth accumulation (Henslin, 2017). In considering mobility, it is important to put a personal plan in place early in life to increase upward mobility.
I find this topic of mobility very interesting and I have already been thinking about my future plans for success. Mobility is the ability to move up and down the income ladder in a lifetime. Understanding economic mobility is the key to capturing the “American Dream”. Since age 10, I have desired to be at the top of the income ladder. My primary goal in life is to achieve success as a neurosurgeon. In achieving my goals and upward mobility, there are three different types of sociological perspectives that I will use to help along the way. I have no doubt that I will achieve upward mobility with this clear plan in place.
First of all, I have to outperform my competition in order to be at the top of the income ladder and achieve upward mobility. Since I plan to attend large, competitive college, it would help to be the valedictorian of my class. Following undergraduate school, I will be competing against others to get into medical school and then throughout my surgical residency. This is much like the conflict theory, in terms of how I will always be competing and racing to be the best. Conflict theorists look at how groups in the same class compete against each other for more money or a better job (Henslin, 2017). Additionally, I will need a lot of help from family and friends in order to accomplish my goals. Throughout college, I will need help studying, paying for food, and paying college tuition. I will also need friendships, which will require me to have a positive attitude toward people. This will involve face-to-face interactions and is linked to the symbolic interactionism perspective. Symbolic interactionist theorists focus on interactions between people (Henslin, 2017). Lastly, to achieve upward mobility, I will be required to follow private policies throughout my entire life. These policies are guidelines that are made by the government, my college, or my job. This fits into the concept of structural functionalism, which involves examining the relationships between social institutions and how society works together to promote stability through these institutions (Henslin, 2017).
Overall, my plan basically involves three simple steps: Graduate medical school, work harder than everyone around me and save at least 20% of my income. I believe my plan is right on target since “Pew research shows savings and assets are key to moving up the economic ladder, both within a lifetime and across generations” (Financial Security and Mobility, 2018). My parents have taught me that is imperative to save as much as possible and avoid debt.
In order for my plan to work, I do not know of anything that needs to change within the United States. It would be nice if a college education did not cost so much. For some people, obtaining a college education may be a barrier due to costs and necessary grades. According to Penn Institute for Urban Research, the United States needs to focus on policies of “place-based initiatives and investments in improving the quality of primary education that can increase upward mobility” (Chetty, 2014). According to Chetty (2014), segregation, income inequality, education, social capital and family structure all impact mobility. In examining my plan, I believe I have designed it to fit within the standards that I live in. However, there are a few barriers I will have to overcome. As I begin my career, I will be starting at the bottom. I imagine I will struggle financially at first, particularly while repaying college loans. Regardless of social class, throughout life, there are always struggles to overcome.
Social mobility is much different on a global scale. In many countries, the opportunity to increase upward mobility is not even an option. In some countries there is very little hope to increase income or accumulate wealth. This relates to relative social mobility, which is the likelihood of how children move up or down from their parent’s place on the income ladder (McElwee, 2014). This can occur in America but it is much less common in other countries. I believe that America is the best place to achieve goals of upward mobility.
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