Income Inequality

December 3, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 42
Is the gap between rich and poor getting wider?
By Marcia Clemmitt


A homeless woman asks for money (Getty Images/Spencer Platt)
A homeless woman asks for money amid the affluence of New York City, where the gap between rich and poor is said to be greater than in India. (Getty Images/Spencer Platt)

A recent Census Bureau report brought a flurry of press attention to the widening gap between rich and poor. The gap in New York City is widening — and is now bigger than in India, noted the New York Daily News. Indeed, most analysts agree incomes of the very rich have been pulling away from all others in recent decades. The average pretax income for the bottom 90 percent of households is almost $900 below what it was in 1979, while the average pretax income for the top 1 percent is $700,000 higher. Having a wealthy class with very large amounts of disposable money is valuable — not harmful — to society, some argue. But others say the recent winner-take-all economy helped trigger the massive recession, leaving most people with stagnant incomes. Meanwhile, Republicans argue that Bush-era tax cuts on top earnings should be extended to stimulate the economy, while many Democrats back extensions only for lower earners.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Upward Mobility
Jun. 26, 2015  Millennial Generation
Dec. 03, 2010  Income Inequality
Apr. 29, 2005  Upward Mobility
Oct. 29, 1993  The Glass Ceiling
Jul. 23, 1993  Downward Mobility
Mar. 21, 1955  Job Problems in Middle Age