It may be hard for many poor teenagers to become rich, but it’s NOT too hard for most to join the middle class — IF they follow this simple advice from a Brookings study.
EXCERPT: Drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities:
1. At least finish high school.
2. Get a full-time job.
3. Wait until age 21 to get married and have children.
Our research shows that of American adults who followed these three simple rules, only about 2 percent are in poverty and nearly 75 percent have joined the middle class (defined as earning around $55,000 or more per year). There are surely influences other than these principles at play, but following them guides a young adult away from poverty and toward the middle class.
Consider an example. Today, more than 40 percent of American children, including more than 70 percent of black children and 50 percent of Hispanic children, are born outside marriage. This unprecedented rate of nonmarital births, combined with the nation’s high divorce rate, means that around half of children will spend part of their childhood—and for a considerable number of these all of their childhood — in a single-parent family. As hard as single parents try to give their children a healthy home environment, children in female-headed families are four or more times as likely as children from married-couple families to live in poverty. In turn, poverty is associated with a wide range of negative outcomes in children, including school dropout and out-of-wedlock births.