Social Mobility Activity: Game of Life
Is the American Dream alive? Increasingly, we are seeing that the family you are born into determines how likely you are to succeed. Things like where you are born or your parents’ income are important in determining how well you do in life. Play the Game of Life to get a sense of how significantly family situation shapes life trajectories in America. Will the odds be stacked for or against you?
Start by choosing your parents. Whether you get a rich or a poor parent is the luck of the draw, just like in real life.
Blue Parents earn income in the fourth quartile (more than 75% of earners). You have a 7 in 10 chance of being a high earner yourself.
Red Parents earn income in the third quartile (more than 50% of earners, but less than Blue Parents). You have a 6 in 10 chance of being a high earner yourself.
Purple Parents earn income in the second quartile (more than 25% of earners, but less than Blue and Red Parents). You have a 3 in 10 chance of being a high earner yourself.
Green Parents earn income in the first quartile (less than Blue, Red and Purple Parents). You have a 3 in 10 chance of being a high earner yourself.
Next, pick which county you grow up in. The county you grow up in influences how much money you will earn as an adult by up to 25 percent. Things like public school funding, racial and income segregation, and violent crime impact whether a county is a good or bad place to grow up.
Description: This picture captures the extent to which outcomes for children in the USA are determined by their parents' income. It plots how being born to families at different places in the income distribution is related to the likelihood of obtaining a college degree, and then becoming a high or low income earners themselves. Data source: Chetty et al. (2014) data available here: and complied myself from the Education Logitudinal Study (2002) About this graph: This is a Sankey Graph, a type of flow diagram often used in sciences. I used an addon for Google Sheets called SankeySnips made by Bruce McPherson and available here.