Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Is Laziness the Cause of Economic Inequality?

By Bruce Stokes, Director of Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to Foreign Policy

Once, laments over economic inequality were the sole purview of the left.  But now the growing gap between the rich and the poor is a mainstream concern. “The distribution of income and wealth in the United States has been widening more or less steadily for several decades, to a greater extent than in most advanced countries,” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen observed in a speech on October 17. And “I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history.

In a recent report, titled “Redistribution, Inequality and Growth,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) contended that economic inequality is an enemy of growth. And in his state of the union address earlier this year, President Barack Obama acknowledged that, despite four straight years of economic growth, inequality in the United States has deepened. Now, a new Pew Research Center survey of the citizens in 44 countries has found that a median of 60 percent — including 46 percent of Americans — say inequality is a very big problem in their respective societies.

Read more at Foreign Policy




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