A bedrock American principle is the idea that all individuals
should have the opportunity to succeed on the basis of their own
effort, skill, and ingenuity. --Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Income inequality has been on the rise since the late 1970s, but
the economic and financial crisis of 2008 instigated an
unemployment epidemic that dramatically compounded this problem in
the United States and catapulted the issue to the center of debate.
There is wide agreement across the political spectrum that high
inequality is contributing to undesirable circumstances such as
stagnant household income, rising poverty rates, and increased
borrowing and debt, though there is much less agreement on
"Inequality in America" provides a snapshot of the issues posed
by the growing concentrations of income, focusing on the United
States but drawing on international comparisons to help set the
context. The authors examine the economic, technological, and
political drivers of inequality and identify worrying trends
associated with its rise. They demonstrate how specific factors
have exacerbated income inequality, including technological change,
international trade, changes in labor market participation, and the
increasing role of the financial sector. Their clear and concise
exposition makes the issues surrounding income distribution
accessible to a wider public.
As they write in the conclusion: "We have argued that tackling
the worst effects of inequality and re-establishing a measure of
equal opportunity requires increased investment in crucial public
goods: first, education; second, a more progressive and simplified
tax system; and third, increased international cooperation to avoid
a race to the bottom. Education, tax, and other such policies are
pursued by other highperforming advanced countries and can be
shaped for the United States in a way that is fully consistent with
an efficient and competitive American economy."
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