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Great post.

Superb analysis of the, er "fading methodological rigour". And by a stroke of serendipity, Frances' excellent post follows Doug Saunders' flawed Globe piece last week, "Can we ever knock down the walls of the wealthy ghetto?" where he clearly suggests that people in the top 1% (over $220K/year) do not earn their successes on their merits - due to the "closed doors" of the "ghettoized wealthy".

The idea of a lack of intergenerational mobility due to "closed doors" - using an income cutoff of $220K/year - is curious as this income standard captures most or all university Presidents, a significant number of university Provosts and some Deans, a goodly number of full professors at least in Ontario (per university sunshine lists), most Canadian hospital presidents, most medical doctors in Canada, many federal and provincial deputy ministers such as the Chief Statistician of Canada, some NGO Presidents (per the recent Globe & Mail list), most legal and accounting partners, the Governor General of Canada, many superior court justices including the Chief Justice of Canada, not to ignore Prime Ministers and Premiers, some cabinet ministers and of course FP 500 executives.

I hope someone unpacks these issues. Is the issue we should focus on a lack of intergenerational mobility? or children under performing their parents? or an inequality issue where it seems that wealth and income are sometimes conflated or earnings with standard of living as Frances notes?

Yet, while admittedly anecdotal, in numerous Globe & Mail or CBC profiles over the years of some distinguished Canadian thought leaders, a very common theme is the very modest - if not downright poor or working class - family circumstances of the future 1 percenter. See the recent profile of Chief Justice McLachlin or the profile of Governor Mark Carney growing up north of 60 in the home of a high school teacher.

Restated, as the number of wage earners in the top 1% increases, does this not suggest a more meritorious and more mobile society, for the occupations and professions cited in the top 1% require advanced degrees in difficult disciplines? Surely a PhD in mathematics and eventual Chief Statistician of Canada - after arriving from communist Hungary (Felligi) - cannot be attributed to private schools and a lack of inheritance tax in Canada?

Ian, Bob, thanks for your comments and kind words about the post.

Perhaps tangential but I think on point: (material) "standard of living" and "quality of life" are frequently conflated if not equated, but they are different things. "Professional"/"white collar" work has become increasingly tougher, less secure, and more taxing in terms of hours, 24/7 availability, etc. (we now have laptops, handheld devices, mobile internet, and the thereby enabled expectations of being online). In general, job security and security of livelihood has declined in aggregate. Increased income doesn't really compensate for it - what use is the money when there is less (quality) time to enjoy it, and higher incomes just get priced into "required" spending?

My usual thought experiment is to disregard money and look at the flow of goods and services people receive, and what they are asked to give in return (e.g. aside from money, "wasted" time and attention).

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