Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxviii
  2. Henry Braun, Irwin Kirsch
    Pages 1-10 Open Access
  3. Understanding Where We Are Today

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 11-11
    2. Douglas S. Massey, Jonathan Tannen
      Pages 13-33 Open Access
    3. Bruce Baker, Danielle Farrie, David G. Sciarra
      Pages 97-136 Open Access
    4. Henry Braun
      Pages 137-164 Open Access
  4. The Labor Market

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 165-165
    2. Jared Bernstein
      Pages 167-195 Open Access
    3. Ishwar Khatiwada, Andrew M. Sum
      Pages 197-252 Open Access
  5. Education and Opportunity

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 253-253
    2. Timothy M. (Tim) Smeeding
      Pages 255-295 Open Access
    3. Jennifer A. O’Day, Marshall S. Smith
      Pages 297-358 Open Access
    4. Robert I. Lerman
      Pages 359-385 Open Access
  6. Politics and the Road Ahead

  7. Seeking Inclusive Prosperity

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 465-465
    2. Chrystia Freeland
      Pages 467-474 Open Access
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 475-489

About this book


Across the country, our children are beginning life from very different starting points. Some have aspirations and believe they can be achieved. For too many others, aspirations are tempered, if not dashed, by the sobering realities of everyday life. These different starting points place children on distinctly different trajectories of growth and development, ultimately leading to vastly different adult outcomes. 

How did we get to a place where circumstances of birth have become so determinative? And what must we do, within communities and across our country, to better equalize opportunity for more Americans – both young and old? The editors of this volume contend that if, as a nation, we do nothing, then we will continue to drift apart, placing an unsustainable strain on the nation’s social fabric and the character of its democracy. Consequently, understanding the dynamics governing the distribution and transmission of opportunity – and transforming this understanding into policies and programs – is critical for not only the life outcomes of individual Americans and their children, but also the country as a whole. 

The goal of Educational Testing Service’s Opportunity in America initiative is to explore these powerful dynamics and to describe and convey them in a way that advances the national conversation about why we must take action – and how best to do so. This volume contains 14 chapters, including an epilogue, written by leaders from a range of fields including education, economics, demography, and political science. Collectively, they not only illuminate key aspects of the problem but also offer suggestions of what policies, programs, and changes in practices could begin to reverse the trends we are seeing. Written in an engaging style, this volume constitutes an essential foundation for informed discussion and strategic analysis.


Intergenerational mobility The American dream Equality of opportunity Economic opportunity Educational opportunity Human capital Educational reform Educational equity Education policy Standards-based reform School funding Achievement gap Racial segregation Socioeconomic status Social indicators

Editors and affiliations

  • Irwin Kirsch
    • 1
  • Henry Braun
    • 2
  1. 1.Educational Testing ServicePRINCETONUSA
  2. 2.Lynch Sch of EducBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and the Author(s) 2016
  • License CC BY-NC
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-25989-5
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-25991-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site