Roughly two out of every three Americans wind up in the middle class or higher by the time they turn 40, but it's a lot more likely to happen if you're born into wealthy family to begin with, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution. Children born to rich families had a 75% chance of winding up in middle class, here defined as having an income in the top three quintiles. Those born to poor families had only a 40% chance, the New York Times reports.
Race played a huge factor as well. The study set up benchmarks of success for each stage in life. For teens, for example, they were graduating high school with at least a 2.5 gpa, not having a criminal record, and not having children. Only two in five black teens hit all those marks, compared to two-thirds of whites. The study also emphasized the value of early success—hitting one benchmark made you much more likely to hit the next.