What is income inequality? How is it measured? Is the middle class really declining? How does it relate to poverty? How long has inequality been rising in the US? Have there been other periods in history when income differences were as large as they are today? What are the causes of growing income and wage inequality? The author addresses these and other conceptual issues in eight carefully reasoned and clearly presented chapters. Concluding with an analysis and comparison of trends in wage inequality in other developed countries, he asks the final speculative question: How much more growth in inequality can our society withstand?
1. The Income Distribution: Incomes as Outcomes: Popular Impressions, One's Position in the Income Distribution, How the Income Distribution Changes, Summary. 2. Concepts and Methods of Inequality: Measuring Income and Income Inequality, Data and Data Issues, Conclusion. 3. Inequality in the Post-World War II: An Overview, 1947 to 1973: Rapid Income Growth, Stable Income Inequality, 1973-1996: Slow Income Growth, Rising Inequality, Trends in Other Indicators, Summing Up. 4. Trends in Earnings and Earnings Inequality; The Changing Nature of the Labor Market, Trends in Labor Market Earnings, Growing Inequality in the Earnings Distribution, Characteristics of High Earners and Low Earners, A Final Comment. 5. Suggested Causes of Growing Inequality: The Public's View and the Economists' View, Early Explanations, Relative Wage Differences, Growing Inequality Within Groups, Trade vs. Technology, From Labor Market Earnings to Household Income, No Simple Explanations. 6. Inequality Before 1950: Some Economic History, Earnings and Wage Inequality, Income Inequality, Discussion. 7. International Comparison: The Emerging World Economy, Measuring Inequality Across Nations, Cross-National Studies of Inequality, Closing Remarks. 8. The Future: How Much More inequality? Can the Trend Level Off? An Improved Perspective on Inequality. Appendixes: A. Inequality Measures; B. Changes in the Current Population Survey; C. Statistics.