Sunday 19 December 2021

“Why it’s harder to earn more than your parents” by The Economist

I was scrolling through YouTube and came across this video by The Economist (video is very much in the context of London and the US so do take that into account, nonetheless, it is still an interesting video to take a look at), the title is definitely very eye-catching but the main point of the video is how you might think climbing the social ladder now is much easier compared to your parent’s time but unfortunately it’s not the case as opportunities are not there for the general population. The video starts by explaining how the neighbourhood you grow up in affects your chances of moving up the income levels where being at the ‘bottom’ means you have a lower chance.

The land of opportunities, America?

A Senior Fellow they interviewed mentioned that America is the poster child for rising income and wealth inequality hence making the chances for catching up (having opportunities) which make it difficult to climb the social ladder. It was also mentioned that if you are not from a priviledged background, it would feel like your child is facing failure and this can affect your political views as populist movement would appeal to them.

To get a degree or not?

The video also touches on how being in a university can affect your income as most counties move away from manufacturing and towards service-based industries resulting in lesser openings for non-degree holders. This means education is a huge factor determining your social status compared to 50 and 60 years ago. I watched the College Admission Scandal on Netflix and this video also backs it up by saying that America has legacy admissions where children of alumni does have a higher chance of getting in for example, between 2014 to 2019, 43% of white students who graduated from Harvard were student athletes, children of faculty, “dean’s interest list” and “legacy” students. This gives an impression that if your parents are rich and went to college, you are more likely to graduate than if your parents are poor and did not go to college.

Effects of starting young

It also covered how starting young and being exposed to more items or knowledge can help in the long run as well as how tuition works. It also showed how in a small island nation in Jamaica, toys that can be used to educate young children helped them in the long run as the study showed that they earned 25% more in 20 years compared to the control group and earned 43% more per hour in 30 years. Of course, the country you are in also determines the absolute mobility as emerging markets like India and China where a huge proportion of people have been out of extreme poverty as the country grows.

Social Capital

Your network matters! Having someone in the industry you are interested in and in the words of one of them is the subtle favours that people can call upon. I think this is also hugely felt all around the world as referrals do work for jobs and to be honest, you would tend to trust someone who has good reviews from a person you know than a complete stranger as you can gauge the skillsets and character of the person beforehand based on the description given by the referrer.

My thoughts

I would think that in a way, your own potential is limited by your surroundings mainly because the exposure is not there so you would think wow, it’s gonna be difficult to attain it or feel like you need certain pre-requisites to achieve things. Studies and data have definitely proven so that where you grow up and your parents can determine your opportunities in this time and age. But of course, there are many chances in life to change it but it’s not easy. We have also seen success stories and what we don’t see are the struggles and difficulties faced. I think after watching the video, a lot of the individuals who manage to break out of the poverty cycles that exists in their neighbourhood mostly aspire or have gone back to help the places that need help the most. It is not easy but slowly more opportunities can be opened for everyone and individual effort matters. Many factors are involved and it is definitely not easy to break through the cycle. As wealth inequality expands due to the pandemic, children who have no access to technology really lose out in opportunities to those who have access.

In Singapore, I would say we are lucky as help is usually accessible however, we do see the distance between the rich widen as more overseas wealthy individuals choose to buy properties or have their family offices in Singapore due to the tax benefits although it does bring certain benefits. Overall, life’s a journey and an exploration of yourself, although statistics and data show a certain phenomenon but we can make the change in one way or another no matter how small or big. I will be taking a break from making videos (but will be posting articles) in December as it is more of a reflection month for me and work is kinda piling up although it’s year-end..... Lots of looking back and reflecting posts coming haha. I might do a end of year portfolio review video at most. December is flying past and hope everyone enjoys the last 2 weeks of it.

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