We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Income Mobility?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Income mobility is the movement of an individual or group from one income level to another. That income scale is somewhat arbitrary, but is usually set in quintiles, or fifths. In other words, the groups will be divided into percentages, such as the upper 20 percent, lower 20 percent, and three other divisions in between. Income mobility is measured in terms of upward mobility and downward mobility

The main benefit of income mobility is as a measure of economic opportunity and economic health in a country. In cases where upward mobility is seen, it could be the result of the economic policies in place, along with the aids available for those at the lower income levels. Due to the fact that income mobility is based on percentages, there will always be some moving upward and some moving downward.

The U.S. government, along with other governments across the globe, look very closely at income mobility data. Such information is not considered one of the leading economic indicators, simply because it is not available at regular intervals, it is still a key point of analysis. The most reliable information comes from comparing data in a census. However, many countries, such as the United States, only conduct a comprehensive census once in a decade.

Those countries who find they experience a great deal of stability in income mobility often reassess what they are doing to see if things can be done differently. Those who are constantly in the bottom quintile may need a little more help. This may come in the way of job training and further educational opportunities. Countries that invest in such programs may find they are able to offer better upward income mobility for the citizenry.

Income mobility is often used interchangeably with social mobility. While the two are certainly linked, they constitute two slightly different things. Social mobility refers to a social status. Those who earn incomes often move up in social status, but some may decide not to upgrade their lifestyles. In those cases, the social status and income status may not necessarily be linked.

In the United States, there has historically been more mobility at the lower levels, than the upper levels. In fact, there are those that move from the bottom quintile to the top quintile within the time period of a decade. Those at the very top of the list, meaning the upper echelon of the top quintile hardly every stay there. In fact, only a very small percentage maintain the income levels needed for that position, though they may still remain in that upper quintile, just not as high as they used to be.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.