Want to move up the economic ladder? Go to college, find a spouse who works and try to avoid getting laid off.
College graduates, people in dual-earner families, whites and those lucky enough to escape a bout of unemployment are also the most likely to move from the bottom fifth of the income ladder to at least the middle, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts analysis of family income trends.
"Education, race and family employment matter for movement out of the bottom," Diana Elliott, a research officer on economic mobility at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said Thursday.
In general, Pew researchers have noted, the rags-to-riches tale so popular in Hollywood is less likely than many Americans would like to believe.
The researchers' analysis of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, an in-depth look at family finances from 1968 to 2009, found that just 4 percent of Americans who grew up at the bottom fifth of the household income ladder made it to the top fifth as adults.
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Overall, 43 percent of people who are raised in a family at the bottom of the income ladder stay there as adults.
The new analysis, released Thursday, looks at what factors made it more likely for those economic success stories to occur.
The Pew researchers compared adults in their prime working years with their parents at the same point in their lives.