Ignorance about income disparity in the United States

January 22, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

According to this article in Slate, Americans are ignorant of how outrageous wealth disparity is in the United States:

According to the Harvard study, most people believe that the top 20 percent of the country owns about half the nation’s wealth, and that the lower 60 percent combined, including the 20 percent in the middle, have only about 20 percent of the wealth. A whopping 92 percent of Americans think this is out of whack; in the ideal distribution, they said, the lower 60 percent would have about half of the wealth, with the middle 20 percent of the people owning 20 percent of the wealth.What’s astonishing about this is how wrong Americans are about reality. In fact, the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent hold more of the country’s wealth – 40 percent – than 9 out of 10 people think the top 20 percent should have. The top 10 percent of earners take home half the income of the country; in 2012, the top 1 percent earned more than a fifth of U.S. income – the highest share since the government began collecting the data a century ago.

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Category: Economy, income disparity

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    Ignorance about wealth distribution has another component: most people don’t actually know where they are in the distribution. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but something like 20% of the U.S. population believes it is in the top 1%. But unless you have a 7-figure salary and an 8-figure net worth, you’re not in the top 1%. (See, http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html/.)

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