The Great Gatsby and the Great Gatsby curve

Paul Krugman's column today mentions the  "Great Gatsby curve," which shows a negative historical correlation between inequality and upward mobility. Economist Miles Corak, who played the lead role in discovering it, and also wrote a useful Journal of Economic Perspectives piece discussing and explaining it, starts that article by mentioning the so-called "American dream," of which F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has been called, by generations of literary critics, an important critique.The name "Great Gatsby curve" was cleverly chosen but is paradoxical, perhaps deliberately so. In the novel, Gatsby exemplifies upward mobility, as he rises with remarkable swiftness, and it seems almost effortlessly, from humble circumstances to the possession of a vast fortune. But on the other hand, the book seems to show the impregnability of self-confident, hereditarily super-rich American aristocrats like Tom and Daisy Buchanan at…

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