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Inequality Amid Abundance: To Whom Does It Matter?



How serious is the problem of rising economic inequality amid abundance? Are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? To what extent do empirical measures of inequality reflect differences in material well-being in America? The answers to these issues rely on the quantitative metrics of economic analysis, which lend a veneer of scientific precision to estimates of income inequality. However, these empirical estimates of inequality and what they signify rest on loose soil that offers fertile diggings for economists and philosophers. To grasp the essential meaning of economic inequality requires examining how income is measured along with demographic changes, geographic differences and shifting fortunes over the life course.


Dr. Neil Gilbert is Chernin Professor of Social Welfare at the School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley and Co-Director of the Center for Child and Youth Policy.