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Children in poverty and Hispanic children were more likely to be uninsured. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports. Intragenerational income mobility refers to the rate at which a person moves to a higher or lower income level during her or his work career. More than half of those individuals in the bottom income quintile in remained there 10 years later, and less than 4 percent reached the top quintile.
Source: Gregory Acs and Seth Zimmerman. Intragenerational Economic Mobility From to The Urban Institute. The graph also shows that the likelihood of being in a bad job is much worse for part-time workers, for on-call and day laborers, and for those working for temporary help agencies. Source: Arne L. Kalleberg, Barbara F. Reskin, Ken Hudson. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe that there are no jobs available for them. The number of discouraged workers in the U.
Relative to their share of the labor force, young people, blacks, and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics and men were over-represented among discouraged workers. Unemployed and marginally attached workers in first quarter of as share of the civilian population. The ownership of wealth among households in the U. Source: Source: Edward N. Wolff, Intergenerational income mobility can be measured by calculating the rate at which individuals move to income quintiles that are different that that of their families of origin.
The proportion of sons who remained in the bottom quartile declined between and and stayed the same afterward. Lopoo, and Susan E. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. The decline in the private sector was steeper than the decline in the public sector. Source: Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Employment fell by 3. The job losses in the recession are more severe than in all prior recessions.
Job losses in recent recessions, changes in total employment from beginning of recession. Source: Christopher J. Goodman and Steven M. Employment Loss and the Recession: An Overview. Monthly Labor Review. Does immigration to the U. The answer is both! The education distribution below indicates that immigrants are concentrated in both tails of the skill distribution. Source: David Card. Immigration and Inequality. Center for research and analysis of immigration. The incarceration rate in the United States has grown so dramatically since the s that the U. The rise in incarceration has been especially prominent among young Black males and high school dropouts.
Percent of year old men in prison or jail, by race, ethnicity, and educational attainment, and Incarceration and Social Inequality. Daedalus, 3 , Skip to main content. Custom Search 1 Search this site. Research Database. Graduate Student Grants. State of the Union Conference State of the Union Bold Visions. State of the States Hispanics in America. Inequality in the 21st Century Studies in Inequality.
Multimedia Video Audio. Our Mission About the Center. Inequality that Everyone Should Know. The American middle class had been significantly hollowed out. The result, according to Smith, is a political landscape dominated in the s and s by business groups, specifically "political insiders" — former members of Congress and government officials with an inside track — working for "Wall Street banks, the oil, defense, and pharmaceutical industries; and business trade associations. Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that hyper-inequality may explain political questions — such as why America's infrastructure and other public investments are deteriorating,  or the country's recent relative lack of reluctance to engage in military conflicts such as the invasion of Iraq.
Top-earning families, wealthy enough to buy their own education, medical care, personal security, and parks, have little interest in helping pay for such things for the rest of society, and have the political influence to make sure they don't have to. So too, the lack of personal or family sacrifice involved for top earners in the military intervention of their country — their children being few and far between in the relatively low-paying all-volunteer military — may mean more willingness by influential wealthy to see its government wage war.
Economist Branko Milanovic argued that globalization and the related competition with cheaper labor from Asia and immigrants have caused U. The relatively high rates of health problems and social problems, obesity , mental illness , homicides , suicides , teenage births , incarceration , child conflict, drug use and lower rates of social goods life expectancy , educational performance , trust among strangers , women's status , social mobility , even numbers of patents issued per capita , in the US compared to other developed countries may be related to its high income inequality.
Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have found such a correlation which remains after accounting for ethnicity,  national culture,  and occupational classes or education levels. It is claimed in a study by Princeton University researchers Angus Deaton and Anne Case that income inequality could be a driving factor in a marked increase in deaths among white males between the ages of 45 to 54 in the period to According to the The Health Inequality Project, the wealthiest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest.
For American women the life expectancy gap is 10 years. Paul Krugman argues that the much lamented long-term funding problems of Social Security and Medicare can be blamed in part on the growth in inequality as well as the usual culprits like longer life expectancies. The traditional source of funding for these social welfare programs — payroll taxes — is inadequate because it does not capture income from capital, and income above the payroll tax cap, which make up a larger and larger share of national income as inequality increases. Whereas in the s, high school and college graduates had "very similar family structures", today, high school grads are much less likely to get married and be active in their communities, and much more likely to smoke, be obese, get divorced, or have "a child out of wedlock.
The zooming wealth of the top one percent is a problem, but it's not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college.
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It's not nearly as big a problem as the 40 percent of children who are born out of wedlock. It's not nearly as big a problem as the nation's stagnant human capital, its stagnant social mobility and the disorganized social fabric for the bottom 50 percent. Contradicting most of these arguments, classical liberals such as Friedrich Hayek have maintained that because individuals are diverse and different, state intervention to redistribute income is inevitably arbitrary and incompatible with the concept of general rules of law, and that "what is called 'social' or distributive' justice is indeed meaningless within a spontaneous order".
Those who would use the state to redistribute, "take freedom for granted and ignore the preconditions necessary for its survival. The growth of inequality has provoked a political protest movement — the Occupy movement — starting in Wall Street and spreading to communities across the United States in A December Gallup poll found a decline in the number of Americans who felt reducing the gap in income and wealth between the rich and the poor was extremely or very important 21 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents, and 72 percent of Democrats.
Opinion surveys of what respondents thought was the right level of inequality have found Americans no more accepting of income inequality than other citizens of other nations, but more accepting of what they thought the level of inequality was in their country, being under the impression that there was less inequality than there actually was.
Income inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient is not uniform among the states: after-tax income inequality in was greatest in Texas and lowest in Maine. The household income Gini index for the United States was 0. After including the effects of federal and state taxes, the U. These comparisons indicate Americans shift from reliance on market income to reliance on income transfers later in life and less fully than do households in other developed countries.
The gini rating after taxes and government income transfers  of the United States is sufficiently high, however, to put it among less developed countries. The NYT reported in "With a big share of recent income gains in this country flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world. The poor in much of Europe receive more than their U.
One study indicated that U. This means that public policy choices, rather than market factors, drive U. Some have argued that inequality is higher in other countries than official statistics indicate because of unreported income. European countries have higher amounts of wealth in offshore holdings.
The NYT reported in that there were three key reasons for other industrialized countries improving real median income relative to the United States over the period:. According to The New York Times , Canadian middle class incomes are now higher than those in the United States as of , and some European nations are closing the gap as their citizens have been receiving higher raises than their American counterparts. Economists have proposed a variety of solutions for addressing income inequality.
For example, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen described four "building blocks" that could help address income and wealth inequality in an October speech. These included expanding resources available to children, affordable higher education, business ownership, and inheritance. However, there is debate regarding whether a public policy response is appropriate for income inequality.
For example, Federal Reserve Economist Thomas Garrett wrote in "It is important to understand that income inequality is a byproduct of a well-functioning capitalist economy. Individuals' earnings are directly related to their productivity A wary eye should be cast on policies that aim to shrink the income distribution by redistributing income from the more productive to the less productive simply for the sake of 'fairness.
Public policy responses addressing causes and effects of income inequality include: progressive tax incidence adjustments, strengthening social safety net provisions such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families , welfare , the food stamp program , Social Security , Medicare , and Medicaid , increasing and reforming higher education subsidies, increasing infrastructure spending, and placing limits on and taxing rent-seeking.
These included raising the minimum wage, infrastructure stimulus, and tax reform. Research shows that children from lower-income households who get good-quality pre-Kindergarten education are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, hold a job and have higher earnings.
In , the U. Gains in enrollment stalled after , as did growth in funding, due to budget cuts arising from the Great Recession. The quality of funding for public education varies based on the tax base of the school system, with significant variation in local taxes and spending per pupil. Better teachers also raise the educational attainment and future earnings of students, but they tend to migrate to higher income school districts. Raising taxes on higher income persons to fund healthcare for lower income persons reduces after-tax inequality.
The wage premium for a graduate degree is considerably higher than the undergraduate degree. The OECD asserts that public spending is vital in reducing the ever-expanding wealth gap.
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Welfare spending may entice the poor away from finding remunerative work and toward dependency on the state. CBO reported that less progressive tax and transfer policies contributed to an increase in after-tax income inequality between and This reverses a long-term trend of lower tax rates for upper income persons. That's an enormous windfall. It's more, in total dollars, than the tax cut received over the same period by the entire bottom 60 percent of earners. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty recommend much higher top marginal tax rates on the wealthy, up to 50 percent, or 70 percent or even 90 percent.
He argued that in , the tax paid by the highest incomes in the United States averaged In , the rate was Tax expenditures i. The benefits from tax expenditures, such as income exclusions for healthcare insurance premiums paid for by employers and tax deductions for mortgage interest, are distributed unevenly across the income spectrum. They are often what the Congress offers to special interests in exchange for their support.
According to a report from the CBO that analyzed the data:. Understanding how each tax expenditure is distributed across the income spectrum can inform policy choices. Economist Dean Baker argues that the existence of tax loopholes, deductions, and credits for the corporate income tax contributes to rising income inequality by permitting large corporations with many accountants to reduce their tax burden and by permitting large accounting firms to receive payments from smaller businesses in exchange for helping these businesses reduce their tax burden. He says that this redistributes large sums of money that would otherwise be taxed to individuals who are already wealthy yet contribute nothing to society in order to obtain this wealth.
He further argues that since a large portion of corporate income is reinvested in the business, taxing corporate income amounts to a tax on reinvestment, which he says should be left untaxed. He concludes that eliminating the corporate income tax, while needing to be offset by revenue increases elsewhere, would reduce income inequality. In his State of the Union address, Barack Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage.
The progressive economic think tank the Economic Policy Institute agrees with this position, stating: "Raising the minimum wage would help reverse the ongoing erosion of wages that has contributed significantly to growing income inequality. For all too many people working minimum wage jobs, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity are feeling further and further apart. The Economist wrote in December "A minimum wage, providing it is not set too high, could thus boost pay with no ill effects on jobs. Some studies find no harm to employment from federal of state minimum wages, others see a small one, but none finds any serious damage.
Ten states index their minimum wage to inflation. Amalgamated Transit Union international president Lawrence J. Hanley has called for a maximum wage law, which "would limit the amount of compensation an employer could receive to a specified multiple of the wage earned by his or her lowest paid employees. Others argue for a basic income guarantee , ranging from civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. General limitations on and taxation of rent-seeking is popular with large segments of both Republicans and Democrats.
The economists Richard D. Wolff and Gar Alperovitz claim that greater economic equality could be achieved by extending democracy into the economic sphere. The effect on income inequality of monetary policy pursued by the Federal Reserve is challenging to measure. Monetary policy can be used to stimulate the economy e. Former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke wrote in June that there are several effects on income and wealth inequality from monetary stimulus that work in opposing directions:.
Various methods are used to determine income inequality and different sources may give different figures for gini coefficients or ratio different ratio of percentiles , etc.. The United States Census Bureau studies on inequality of household income  and individual income  show lower levels of inequality  than some other sources Saez and Piketty, and the CBO , but do not include data for the highest-income households where most of change in income distribution has occurred.
Two commonly cited sources of income inequality data are the CBO and economist Emmanuel Saez , which differ somewhat in their sources and methods. Saez used IRS data in this measure. Pioneers in the use of IRS income data to analyze income distribution are Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty at the Paris School of Economics showed that the share of income held by the top 1 percent was as large in as in In fact, those between the top 1 percent and top.
Only those in the top. The comparative use of Census Bureau data, as well as most sources of demographic income data, has been questioned by statisticians for being unable to account for 'mobility of incomes'. At any given time, the Census Bureau ranks all households by household income and then divides this distribution of households into quintiles. The highest-ranked household in each quintile provides the upper income limit for each quintile. Comparing changes in these upper income limits for different quintiles is how changes are measured between one moment in time and the next.
The problem with inferring income inequality on this basis is that the census statistics provide only a snapshot of income distribution in the U. The statistics do not reflect the reality that income for many households changes over time — i. For most people, income increases over time as they move from their first, low-paying job in high school to a better-paying job later in their lives. Also, some people lose income over time because of business-cycle contractions, demotions, career changes, retirement, etc. The implication of changing individual incomes is that individual households do not remain in the same income quintiles over time.
Thus, comparing different income quintiles over time is like comparing apples to oranges, because it means comparing incomes of different people at different stages in their earnings profile. Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution notes that many economists and analysts who use U. The main problem with this income measure is that it only reflects households' before-tax cash incomes. It fails to account for changing tax burdens and the impact of income sources that do not take the form of cash.
This means, for example, that tax cuts in and are missed in the census statistics. Furthermore, the Census Bureau measure ignores income received as in-kind benefits and health insurance coverage from employers and the government. By ignoring such benefits as well as sizeable tax cuts in the recession, the Census Bureau's money income measure seriously overstated the income losses that middle-income families suffered in the recession.
New CBO income statistics are beginning to show the growing importance of these items. The income items missed by the Census Bureau are increasing faster than the income items included in its money income measure. What many observers miss, however, is the success of the nation's tax and transfer systems in protecting low- and middle-income Americans against the full effects of a depressed economy. As the CBO statistics demonstrate, incomes in the middle and at the bottom of the distribution have fared better since than incomes at the very top.
Inequality can be measured before and after the effects of taxes and transfer payments such as social security and unemployment insurance. Comparisons of income over time should adjust for changes in average age, family size, number of breadwinners, and other characteristics of a population. Measuring personal income ignores dependent children, but household income also has problems — a household of ten has a lower standard of living than one of two people, though the income of the two households may be the same.
Conservative researchers and organizations have focused on the flaws of household income as a measure for standard of living in order to refute claims that income inequality is growing, becoming excessive or posing a problem for society. High earning households are more likely to be dual earner households,  And according to a analysis of income quintile data by the Heritage Foundation , inequality becomes less when household income is adjusted for size of household. Aggregate share of income held by the upper quintile the top earning 20 percent decreases by However the Pew Research Center found household income has appeared to decline less than individual income in the twenty-first century because those who are no longer able to afford their own housing have increasingly been moving in with relatives, creating larger households with more income earners in them.
Overall, according to Timothy Noah, correcting for demographic factors today's population is older than it was 33 years ago, and divorce and single parenthood have made households smaller , you find that income inequality, though less extreme than shown by the standard measure, is also growing faster than shown by the standard measure.
The Gini coefficient summarizes income inequality in a single number and is one of the most commonly used measures of income inequality. It uses a scale from 0 to 1 — the higher the number the more inequality. Zero represents perfect equality everyone having exactly the same income , and 1 represents perfect inequality one person having all income. Index scores are commonly multiplied by to make them easier to understand.
For example, the U. Census Bureau's official Gini coefficient for the United States was Professor Salvatore Babones of the University of Sydney notes: . A major gap in the measurement of income inequality is the exclusion of capital gains , profits made on increases in the value of investments. Capital gains are excluded for purely practical reasons. The Census doesn't ask about them, so they can't be included in inequality statistics. Obviously, the rich earn much more from investments than the poor. As a result, real levels of income inequality in America are much higher than the official Census Bureau figures would suggest.
Conservative researchers have argued that income inequality is not significant because consumption, rather than income should be the measure of inequality, and inequality of consumption is less extreme than inequality of income in the US. Will Wilkinson of the libertarian Cato Institute states that "the weight of the evidence shows that the run-up in consumption inequality has been considerably less dramatic than the rise in income inequality," and consumption is more important than income.
Others dispute the importance of consumption over income, pointing out that if middle and lower income are consuming more than they earn it is because they are saving less or going deeper into debt. Related to income inequality is the topic of wealth inequality, which refers to the distribution of net worth i.
Net worth is affected by movements in the prices of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, which can fluctuate significantly over the short-term. Income inequality also has a significant effect over long-term shifts in wealth inequality, as income is accumulated. Wealth inequality is also highly concentrated and increasing:. Those between the top 1 percent and top 0. This wealth inequality is apparent in the share of assets held. Financial wealth is measured as net worth minus home values, meaning income-generating financial assets like stocks and bonds, plus business equity.
The Center for American Progress reported in September that: "The trends in rising inequality are also striking when measured by wealth. Among the top 20 percent of families by net worth, average wealth increased by percent between and , while the middle 20 percent of families only saw their wealth increase by 13 percent, and the bottom fifth of families, on average, saw debt exceed assets — in other words, negative net worth Homeowners in the bottom quintile of wealth lost an astounding 94 percent of their wealth between and From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Household Personal Affluence Social class Income inequality gender pay gap ethnic wage gap. Lists by income.
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National income inequality. See also: Household income in the United States and Income inequality metrics. Main article: Causes of income inequality in the United States. The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. February Learn how and when to remove this template message. Further information: Socio-economic mobility in the United States. Further information: Poverty in the United States. We haven't achieved the minimalist state that libertarians advocate.
What we've achieved is a state too constrained to provide the public goods — investments in infrastructure, technology, and education — that would make for a vibrant economy and too weak to engage in the redistribution that is needed to create a fair society. But we have a state that is still large enough and distorted enough that it can provide a bounty of gifts to the wealthy. Further information: Welfare's effect on poverty.
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