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Lot of cycles over the last 100+ years, but for a shorter term, and using anecdata from my own family, it appears to me that upward mobility has plateaued and is, in fact, going in the other direction.

Great-grandma finished 8th grade.

Grandma graduated high school, worked in a garment factory to put food on the table (her DH, an alcoholic, was more of a drag then a help). Rented until she was elderly, at which point she moved to a gov't-assisted apt. Other grandma never worked outside the home, and bragged that she "never picked up a paintbrush" inside the home. She and grandpa (a factory owner) were homeowners, and raised 5 children in a 1200 sf, 3/1 SFH.

Mom, post-high-school, went to nursing school; left nursing to be a SAHM while her children were little (Dad was a lawyer), returned to nursing to pay my college tuition. Mom & Dad were homeowners from the time they were in their late 20's. Dad is now in a paid-for house, and covering all his expenses from his pensions and S.S. In addition, he has about $300k in stocks (his "nest egg").

I have a B.S. and M.S.; quit working to be a SAHM while my children were little (DH has an MBA and was in IT), returned to work to help with children's college tuitions. DH & I have been homeowners since our mid-20's. Retired now, we cover all our expenses from DH's pension, but have only a 5-figure nest egg.
None of my siblings are doing nearly as well as I, or as well as our parents did, due to unfortunate choices in spouses (and subsequent divorces), criminal activity, mental handicaps, ...

DD has a graduate degree, and is successful in her field. Nevertheless, the house (1400 sf 3/2 SFH) DH & I bought for $100k in 1980 is now $500k, and that's out of DD's price range. So even though she has a good income, at age 32 she's not able to afford nearly as nice a standard of living as DH & I had when we were her age. She's saving in 401k's and an IRA, but will not have a pension.

DS is currently in grad school, so it's too soon to tell what his career path will be.

I see my kids and their friends working harder, and having less to show for it, than my peers and I.
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