Ron Brownstein reports on a new National Journal survey of Americans' economic anxieties.
The worries are acutest for white Americans, especially those without a college degree.
Among Hispanics, more respondents said they’d risen above their parents’ station than said they had slipped (47 percent to 22 percent). Responses were similar for African-Americans (33 percent to 22 percent) and college-educated whites (38 percent to 35 percent). But among whites without college degrees, more said they had lost ground (36 percent) rather than gained it (29 percent).
Expectations about children diverged along similar lines.
As in earlier Heartland Monitor surveys, members of minority groups expressed more optimism about their children’s prospects than whites did. While 56 percent of nonwhite respondents said they expected their children to reach the upper class or upper-middle class, just 38 percent of whites agreed. Whites were twice as likely as minorities to say their children would settle in the lower class or lower-middle class and slightly more likely to predict they would reach the middle class. These somber sentiments, as in the earlier Heartland surveys, differed surprisingly little between whites with and without four-year college degrees.
The most interesting question for the future: If economic growth continues to concentrate its benefits on the most affluent, will the politics of the next generation be characterized by minority disappointment of their present high expectations - or white backlash against perceived diminution of their life chances?