28 September 2005

Statistics Say Wealth Inequality Has Been Worsening for Decades

The Gini coefficient is an economic index of wealth inequality. According to Census Bureau data, the Gini coefficient in the U.S. has shown a consistent trend towards increased wealth inequality since 1968, the earliest year for which data was presented.

The historical Gini values have been:

.388 (1968)
.397 (1975)
.403 (1980)
.419 (1985)
.428 (1990)
.450 (1995)
.462 (2000)
.466 (2001)

Overall, the Gini coefficient increased by 20% over the period 1968-2001. It would be interesting to know what is the most recent year with an official figure, if anyone out there has it. I would expect it has gone up over the period 2001-2005 as well, perhaps considerably so.

Is it not an economic achilles' heel to have too much wealth concentrated in too few places? Why has wealth inequality increased, and what can be done to re-establish a large middle class? These should be among the questions asked to future Congressional and Presidential candidates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The middle class is dwindling and the structural changes in America ensure it will not recover. Job creation has been outsourced except for low paid service workers.

Corporations are entities recognized by our laws that provide protection for executives that exercise no social responsibility. Profit is the only measurable reason for their existence.

Historically, we have counted on government to provide oversight for us. We now have a conditions where elected government officials are purchased by corporate special interests through campaign contributions. Add to this the spin coming from corporate news sources and you end up where we are. Recent episodes of Enron, World Com, and Martha are just the tip of the iceberg. Accounting practices are suspect and finances are misrepresented to prop up stock prices.

I think the only hope of ever correcting this is to globalize our unions. Until we have no places left where corporate exploitation of workers exists can we ever change the status quo.

Openess in the work place can move us forward. If salaries were not kept secret we could not have a glass ceiling. If campaign finances were made public for the citizens to see we would not have influence peddling on the scale it exists today. If government contracts were open to public oversight we would not have back room deals that put millions of our tax dollars into private bank accounts.