I hope you read the recent report about how vital CCNY is, in propelling so many of our students out of poverty. The report, led by Stanford economist Raj Chetty*, showed that 76% of City College students who started from the lowest 20% of income end up at least an entire quintile higher, so neither the lowest nor the second-lowest 20%. That report ranks CCNY #2 for mobility in the entire country. We are all proud of our contributions to this effort. But let me link that report to other strands of economic research.
That leap in income is tremendously rare. Most people stay in the same quintile where they start and of those who move, most move just one quintile up or down – very few take more than one step away. You may remember hearing Raj Chetty’s name last month, documenting what David Leonhardt called the “end of the American Dream,” as he tabulated data that showed people born in 1950 had nearly an 80% chance of making more money than their parents, while those born in 1980 had just a 50% chance. (He also provided data about the geography of opportunity: there are some parts of the country that do better than others.) CCNY’s American Dream Machine is enormously difficult; it was always tough but it is becoming even more so.