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Opinion What are friends for? Climbing the income ladder, for one.

A team of researchers used data from 72.2 million Facebook accounts to analyze how likely people at the bottom of the ladder are to have friendships with people near the top. David Gergen: People with higher incomes have a lot of higher-income friends, while those with lower incomes mostly socialize with each other. Gergen says the effect seems to be particularly strong at the top, especially among those with higher income. He says knowing what’s hampering social mobility doesn’t necessarily get you much further toward fixing it. Gergen, Gergen writes, but knowing what is hampering is not necessarily a policy solution, such as legislation or institutional affirmative action. But usually we’re not talking about a problem as private and personal

One can imagine policies that could tackle both of these factors, but they are impracticably draconian. Short of that, one can sketch out institutional policies that would help on the margins. But it's harder to see how change happens in the real world, where millions of families make billions of private decisions about what’s right for them. It is not, after all, an accident that so many high-SES young people grow up mostly