By Bourree Lam, originally posted at The Atlantic.

Moving up the economic ladder relies on more than self-motivation; it also requires opportunity.

Hard work is often touted as the key American virtue that leads to success and opportunity. And there’s lots of evidence to suggest that workers buy into the belief: For example, a recent study found that Americans work 25 percent more hours than Europeans, and that U.S. workers tend to take fewer vacation days and retire later in life. But for many, simply working hard doesn’t actually lead to a better life.

Click here to continue reading.