Moving on up

Doctors, cops, programmers and nurses tend to earn more than their parents, according to NPR’s Planet Money. Police officers and firefighters improve the most on their childhood circumstances.

Some blue-collar workers — truck drivers, heavy-equipment operators, farmers, fishermen and mechanics — also move up the economic ladder.

Designers, musicians and artist have the greatest downward economic mobility. Raised in above-average comfort, they have below-average incomes as adults.

The reporter is named Quoctrung Bui. I’d guess he or she has experienced upward mobility.


Teachers come from families near the 60th percentile, on average, and move up a bit, notes Alexander Russo. Media/communications workers show a similar pattern.

About Joanne


  1. This immediately made me think of these song lyrics:

    “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
    Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks.
    Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such.
    Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
    ‘Cos they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone.
    Even with someone they love.”

    Picking guitars is certainly not going to pay off as well as becoming a doctor or lawyer.

  2. “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematicks and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, musick, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelaine.” John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

    What Adams left out was that the middle generation had better develop a family fortune to support the third generation in their non-economically productive pursuits.