Trickle-Down Norms

American society is fragmenting. Social solidarity is withering, as evidenced by the fading influence of mediating institutions like unions, churches, and social clubs. Dwindling participation in the community organizations that used to bridge social gaps means that Americans tend more and more to interact exclusively with people who are like themselves. This “silo effect” is widespread, but the social chasm has grown particularly large between the upper-middle class and everyone else.

It is well known that, by nearly every measure, people in the upper-middle class and above have pulled ahead of the rest of America in the past three decades. Their incomes have risen far faster than those of everyone else, and they have reaped the majority of the benefits of decades of economic growth. They also tend to have more stable family lives, so the children of the upper-middle class start life with a leg up on their less-fortunate peers, perpetuating their advantage.

Read more at National Affairs