Well-off “helicopter” parents are super annoying, but they didn’t create economic inequality

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Mike Konczal in Vox:

Richard Reeves, the co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, gives a strong affirmative answer in his new book Dream Hoarders. Indeed, he argues professionals are the central drivers of inequality within our economy.

“There is one good reason why many Americans may feel as if the upper middle class is leaving everyone else behind: They are,” he writes. Reeves defines the upper middle class as those in the top 20 percent of households, or those whose incomes start at around$115,000 a year. Reeves believes “it is about time those of us in the favored fifth recognized our privileged position.”

Yet the book is based on three arguments, each of which is flawed. His first contention is that inequality isn’t a problem primarily of the top 1 percent but of the top 20 percent. “This obsession with the upper class [the top 1 percent] allows the upper middle class to convince ourselves we are in the same boat as the rest of America; but it is not true.”

His second argument is that professionals are “hoarding” opportunity for themselves. Opportunity hoarding happens “when the upper middle class does not win by being better but by rigging the competition in our favor.” Examples he emphasizes are legacy admissions (when children of elite colleges get admissions preferences), unpaid internships (which only well-off young people can afford), and exclusive zoning in highly desirable urban areas.

More here.