Financial Situation – Each Child is Born into Different Challenges

Individuals born into families with parents who have lower socioeconomic status (SES) face greater challenges to achieving financial security than those born into families with higher SES. As the family’s financial situation improves, so does the child’s chances of achieving greater upward mobility.

Although the lottery of birth does influence a person’s future finances, there is hope for those kids who seek a more financially secure future than their parents. The data demonstrate that accomplishing this change is challenging and, in many cases, will require extra effort; but it can be achieved.

Research, Statistics & Quotes

Forty-three percent of Americans raised in the bottom quintile remain stuck in the bottom as adults, and 70 percent remain below the middle.

Pew Charitable Trust, Pursuing the American Dream

Only about 60 percent of children from the poorest families are working at age 30, compared with 80 percent of children from median-income families.

Raj Chetty, Stanford Economist, as reported by Five Thirty Eight

Forty percent raised in the top quintile remain at the top as adults, and 63 percent remain above the middle.

Pew Charitable Trust, Pursuing the American Dream

Only 4 percent of those raised in the bottom quintile make it all the way to the top as adults, confirming that the “rags-to-riches” story is more often found in Hollywood than in reality.

Pew Charitable Trust, Pursuing the American Dream

The rich are 8 times likelier to graduate college than the poor.


Sixty-six percent of those raised in the bottom of the wealth ladder remain on the bottom two rungs themselves, and 66 percent of those raised in the top of the wealth ladder remain on the top two rungs.

Pew Charitable Trust, Pursuing the American Dream

When American households are organized into four income groups, 24-year-olds from the top two groups accounted for 77 percent of the Bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2014.

Pew Charitable Trust, Pursuing the American Dream

“There is a difference between broke and being poor. Being broke is a temporary economic condition, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of your spirit, and you must vow to never, ever be poor again.”

John Hope Bryant, Operation Hope CEO

“Without education, many kids that are born into lower socioeconomic conditions will end up raising children in similar conditions. Every child deserves equal access to financial education training that can help break the cycle of poverty.”

Vince Shorb, CEO, National Financial Educators Council

NFEC Position Statement

Money management training programs can help people in all socioeconomic positions work toward a more secure financial future. Unlike other subjects taught in school, personal finance can benefit 100% of students by giving them information they need to work toward greater security.

At the NFEC, our focus is on increasing access to top-quality financial education and encouraging families to pursue greater financial wellness together. Toward this goal, our highly-respected champions and advocates make a significant and powerful contribution by collaborating with us to bring financial education to those who most need it. Our investment into technologies that reduce the cost per impact of creating positive changes in people’s financial knowledge allows us to provide people who lack funds with a pathway to participation in high-quality financial education programming.