The Ladder of Success: Social Mobility in Utah

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The Ladder of Success: Social Mobility in Utah is the Utah Foundation’s seventh report in its Utah Social Capital Series.

This installment focuses on the extent to which Utahns move up the socioeconomic ladder. It presents data and analysis in four areas: post-secondary attainment; homeownership levels; the extent to which people are earning more than their parents did; and the proportion of unengaged youth. It looks at Utah’s performance on these measures over time, comparing the Beehive State both to the seven other Mountain States and to the nation at large.



  • Utah is in the top third of states when it comes to educational attainment. Among the Mountain States, only the highly-educated Colorado outperforms Utah in the percentage of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Utah outperforms all of the other seven Mountain States on homeownership – and indeed ranks sixth nationally on this metric.
  • As to intergenerational economic mobility, Utah ranks in the top third of the U.S. Among the Mountain States, only Montana outperforms Utah.
  • Along with the rest of the nation, Utah has seen a significant long-term decline in intergenerational mobility.
  • When it comes to youth engagement in education, training or the work force, Utah performs among the top 10 nationally (with Colorado) and has generally been headed in the right direction.
  • Utah and Montana are the most consistent Mountain State performers across all four metrics, implying that they may be the most socially mobile states in the region. By contrast, Nevada performed worst on all four metrics.


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