Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"What the Numbers Tell Us" Summary-Article #1

Heather Boushey and Christian Weller’s article “What the Numbers Tell Us,” establishes a statistical basis for the indisputable fact that economic inequality within the United States has been expanding for the past 30 years. Statistics are used to dismiss any theories that these economic trends could be attributed to a temporary situation; rather, they are used to acknowledge an emerging pattern of inequality.

The article states that most economists agree that the distribution of wealth and income are greater today than before the Great Depression. The rich have increased their wealth steadily and by great strides over the last decades, while the income of the poor (largely determined by their wages) has declined. During the 80’s the wages of the poor were lowered by 14.1 percent, the wages for the medium worker were flat, and the wages of those at the top increased by 8.1 percent. In the 90’s, the disparity between the top and middle grew larger, with the top 1percent doubling their income.

Some theories on the causes for these findings were briefly mentioned: the introduction of the PC and the proposition that perhaps the circumstances of a singular demographic could have accounted for the increase in inequality. Both have since been dismissed after further research.

It goes on to say that ‘hardly any’ economists would say the United States economy provides the opportunity for personal mobility. Evidence shows that economic advancement for those at the bottom of the income ladder is less likely to happen today than it has been in the past. Higher inequality has not been matched with higher mobility, causing the concentration of wealth and income we see today.

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