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The gap between rich and poor in America in 30 years

2020-09-01 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

The gap between rich and poor in America in 30 years

下面为大家整理一篇优秀的Economic analysis essay代写范文 -- The gap between rich and poor in America in 30 years,文章讲述美国人正在经历并且永远不能忽略的一件事是贫富之间长期存在的鸿沟。它与每个人的生活息息相关,并且几乎对整个国家的各个方面都产生了巨大的影响。有大量证据表明,在过去的三十年中,这种差距仍在扩大,这一可怕的趋势表明没有迹象可以消除。



The gap between rich and poor in America in 30 years

An inquiry into the causes and control of American inequality that stems from economy and impacts many aspects of American society  


Identifying the Subject and Background Information

One thing Americans are undergoing and can never be ignored is the long existing gap between rich and poor. It is so pertinent to every person’s life and is exerting a great impact on almost each aspect of the nation. There is significant evidence supporting that the gap is still widening in the past three decades and this terrible tendency shows no sign to cease yet.

In a worldwide scale, Gini Coefficient, put forward by Italian economist Gini Corrado in 1922, has long been employed as an indicator of a fair distribution of income. Gini coefficient more or less displays the income distribution disparity of a nation. In accordance with the data release by OECD (OECD iLibrary, 2011), America ranks fourth in the list of member countries of OECD with the highest Gini coefficient. American Gini coefficient rises from 0.337 in the middle of the 1980s to 0.378 in the late of the last century.

A concentrated outbreak of this issue is the protest movement called “Occupy Walls Street” that began on September 17, 2011. Demonstrators including the unemployment, college students, members from trade unions and other social organizations held the slogan which says "We are the 99%", indicating the income inequality and unreasonable wealth distribution between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. All these figures and social conflicts have clearly told a fact that this intractable problem has to be serious studied and then straight faced.

Research on the topic of the widening gap between rich and poor has long been a focus of study. Many scholars have expressed their ideas and views on this topic from different perspectives. Burtless focuses on the correlation between economy growth and increasing inequality. He discusses whether the widening gap will foster of hinder the economy growth and concludes that none of the theories offers an explanation for main trends that have contributed to the three-decade rise in American inequality (Burtless, 2003). Zimlik points that wealth-to-permanent-income ratios are increasing in permanent labor income and income uncertainty, but that transfer income, discourages liquid-asset accumulation. Most of the rich-poor wealth gap is attributable to differences in average characteristics and not coefficients. The leading factor driving the gap between the rich and poor in the ratio of liquid wealth to permanent income is asset-tested transfer income, whereas the leading factor driving the gap in the ratio of net worth to permanent income is labor-market earnings.

I hypothesize that the fact of the widening gap between rich and poor is objective and cannot be ignored. Meanwhile, the negative effects of this phenomenon outweigh its so-called positive ones and measured should be taken as quickly as possible to stop this tendency.

Research Questions/Objectives

As a foreign student in America, I am concerned about the relationship between America and China so that any trivial reflection or response to my motherland from Americans can easily arouse my curiosity and attention. At the beginning, every time I saw or bought products with the label writing ‘Made in China’, a feeling of delight and familiarity surrounded me. However, gradually I noticed that some of my American friends or neighbors shrugged their shoulders at products from China. Someone even resolutely rejected buying or using any of them despite the lower price and acceptable quality. A neighbor of mine once explained to me that this kind of unreasonable dislike possibly originated from the increasing unemployment which caused many Americans to blame Chinese counterparts for grabbing jobs from them.  

Key Player Articles

The causes behind this phenomenon are multi-faceted and people in different social positions may hold various opinions. In terms of its causes, Burtless thinks that the world trade should take partial responsibilities. The globalization and technology advancement behind the world trade also serve as a driving force. As is known, the benefits brought about by globalization to various groups of people are different. It is a common sense that the higher the technology content an occupation involves, the more value it will produce. Thus, for people who conduct labor-intense kind of work will definitely fall behind engineers or experts in income. Unfortunately, this disturbing situation cannot be altered overnight and it may become more severe (Burtless, 1996).

Osberg and Smeeding, however, lay emphasis on American attitudes towards this inequality. They offer some very interesting results that although Americans do not, on the average, have different preferences for aggregate in equality, those at the top of the income distribution in America have less awareness concerning the extent of inequality. There is more polarization in attitudes among Americans than other countries facing the same condition as well as similar preferences for "leveling down" at the top of the earnings distribution, but also less concern for reducing differentials exists at the bottom of the distribution (Osberg & Smeeding, 2006).

Neckerman and Torche cast their eyes to the consequences brought about by inequality. Their review provides an update of research on the patterns and causes of economic inequality in America, including inequality of earnings, wealth and opportunity. They also explore the social and political consequences of inequality, particularly in the areas of health, education, crime, social capital and political power. From where they stand, the most pressing questions concern inequality’s social and political consequences in modern society. These consequences may depend on individual’s perception and interpretation of inequality, mediated by social relations, institutions and cultural context. Even as research on contextual effects proceeds, we should not neglect the other ways in which inequality might matter, and thus no judgment can be easily made (Neckerman & Torche, 2007).

The literature selected highlights that inequality is a complicated problem which possesses multi-faceted causes and consequences. People from different communities have diverse views on it.


My research began with my observation of the strange American attitude towards products from China. This triggers a popular social phenomenon that the rich become richer and the poor poorer. I was longing to figure out the causes and ensuing consequences as well as Americans’ attitudes towards this issue. I began my search with key words that are now pivotal to my research such as “inequality” and “American economy” for scholarly material using the Library Summons through the online search engine and an academic journal database. Through keeping my searches specific I was able to find articles that were sending me in the right direction. Sifting through several research articles allowed me to compile a list of recurring scholars, like Burtless, Neckerman, and Torche, who are pilgrims of the topic; they are referenced innumerable times by fellow scholars researching the topic. Further, I was able to find one of my key articles through the references of another research article. Completing my research in this systematic fashion was essential to finding the specific articles that would support my inquiry into the rating of increasing inequality of America.


In terms of this topic, economic reasons should bear the brunt. On one hand, the economic growth in America is nearly in stasis and downturn persists. The economic growth rate has long remained in a lower level since the financial crisis in 2008. Without exaggeration, American economy has not recovered completely from the fatal disease. Although the chief culprit of the crisis is some giant enterprises and greedy businessmen, in fact the most miserable victims are ordinary people. The head of presidents of a bankrupted group can protect themselves while the ordinary are compelled to accept a reality that they are out of job. If the economy cannot return to the right track, ordinary people will need to struggle for living and their confidence in economy will be shattered.

On the other hand, the rich—and–poor gap is relevant to American economic structure whose unbalanced development between virtual economy and real economy has eroded people’s expectations for employment opportunities and income. The overdevelopment of the virtual economy has brought impetus as well as potential crisis for American economy. From a negative perspective, it ranks as a root cause of the financial crisis. One obvious result of this overdevelopment is large-scale transfer of domestic manufacturing, leading to many workers losing their jobs, because the industries of virtual economy, with high technology as the representative, has a relatively high standard for employees so that the low-level labors cannot be absorbed. As far as I am concerned, the increasing American outcry of protesting or refusing products made in China is actually a helpless response to this harsh condition.

Besides, the present taxation and distribution systems also affect people’s income. America rich people do not need to pay lots of tax which is not proportionated to their income. In recent years, the weaker financial regulation as an outcome of the government’s partiality for liberalism objectively conduces to exceedingly high income of billionaires in Wall Street. The widening gap is an inevitable and aftermath of these policies.

The impacts of the greater gap between rich and poor can be predicted. First, it will intensify the social instability and arouse more conflicts between people from different group. If this problem cannot be properly dealt with, such large-scale protests as Occupy Wall Street will appear frequently. Protests originated from public dissatisfaction will in turn impede the smooth operation and further development of overall economy and people’s passion and initiative for work will be damaged. Second, it will leave negative influence on American democracy regime. It can be foreseen that he greater gap between rich and poor will give rise to people’s questioning and unbelief in government, in the nation’s institutions and political direction if they can see no hope or promising future under one political system. It is possible that they turn to an alternative if provided. Third, this gap will produce inequality in not only income but also education, housing, health insurance and almost every respect with regard to individual life and development as well as cause social conflicts and disputes to be overt, and then political instability and social chaos will follow. As people’s sense of poverty and crisis is provoked, they may express their appeals in some violent way.


Causes behind the increasingly greater gap between rich and poor in America involve the higher unemployment rate in the wake of the stagnant economic growth, the lopsided industry structure or the unbalanced development between the real economy and the virtual economy, the related policies, and the unequal benefits as a result of globalization and technological improvement. Correspondingly, if this trend cannot be effectively stopped, the American society will be trapped into a vicious circle that the 1% richest men with most of the nation’s resources and wealth will keep gaining profits while the rest of the poorer people can do nothing except for being irritated and jealous, for richer people with more access to good education will probably outshine those with little investment on intelligence. And this kind of gap in income and some other aspects may remain even widen. At that time, the society is about to be on the edge of collapse.


OECD iLibrary: OECD Economic Surveys: Gini coefficient (2011). Retrieved 17 November, 2014, from OECD Statistics site: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/statistics.

Burtless, Gary. (1996). Worsening American Income Inequality: Is World Trade to Blame? The Brookings Review, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Spring, 1996), pp. 26-31.

Burtless, Gary. (2003). Has Widening Inequality Promoted or Retarded US Growth? Canadian Public Policy, Vol. 29, pp. 185-201.

Ziliak, James P. (2003). Income Transfers and Assets of the Poor. The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 85, No. 1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 63-76.

Osberg, Lars & Smeeding, Timothy. (2006). “Fair" Inequality? Attitudes toward Pay Differentials: The United States in Comparative. American Sociological Review, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Jun., 2006), pp. 450-473.
Neckerman, Kathryn M. & Torche, Florencia. (2007) Inequality: Causes and Consequences. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 33 (2007), pp. 335-357.




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