It took Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Alexander 25 years to complete his research about the paths people take in life. Finally, just a month before he retires from the university, Alexander has published what he found after studying nearly 800 Baltimore school children for more than two decades. And the news is kind of depressing.

The project started out as a three-year study of how children acclimated to first grade. But after watching the kids closely for a few years, Alexander and his fellow researchers decided to take the study further–much further. Now, the children they started out studying are about 30. And, according to Alexander, almost all are in the exact same socio-economic strata as their parents were. “This view is at odds with the popular ethos that we are makers of our own fortune,” Alexander told the Hopkins Hub. “The implication is where you start in life is where you end up in life. It’s very sobering to see how this all unfolds.”

Some other intriguing facts:

+Only 4 percent of children from the low-income families had a college degree at age 28. But 45 percent of children from higher-income families did.

+The highest self-reported rates of drug use, binge drinking, and chronic smoking were found in better-off white men, followed by low-income white men.

+At age 28, 89 percent of white high school drop outs were employed, while only 40 percent of black high school dropouts were.

See more fascinating highlights from the study here.