A new study found that the most important factor for poor children to climb the income ladder is more friendships with their peers from higher-income households, rather than the community's racial composition, family structure or school quality. The more connected the community is between the rich and the poor, the more socially mobile it becomes, according to the study.
The Opportunity Insights, a research arm for Harvard University, published on Monday its research results on Nature, an international academic journal. The research analyzed Facebook friends of some 70.3 million people, equivalent to 82 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 and found that children from the impoverished background could earn 20 percent more in the adulthood if more than 70 percent of their friends were raised in the wealthy neighborhood.
The research team added that, to raise the possibility of climbing up the social ladder, children should not just go to the same school together but mutually interact more. The New York Times (NYT) evaluated the findings as figuring out why the ratio of moving out of poverty differs between communities.
Jimarielle Bowie, who is a first generation in her low-income family to get a postgraduate degree, said in the interview with the NYT that through her experience meeting people who were more affluent she could understand how those people think and that she thought it made a significant difference in her life.
The researchers, however, pointed out that American society is so structured that such friendships crossing class lines are declining and that the parents in an increasingly unequal society are under pressure to give their kids more competitive advantage, which discourages such cross-class friendships from happening. The Economist also stressed that children from impoverished backgrounds are losing their opportunities as society becomes more divided and that a policy is needed to integrate social classes.
Jeong-Soo Hong email@example.com