Concept: Economic inequality
Income disparities in mortality are profound in the United States, but reasons for this remain largely unexplained. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of health behaviors, and other mediating pathways, separately and simultaneously, including health insurance, health status, and inflammation, in the association between income and mortality.
Prior research has reported disparities in environmental exposures in the United States, but, to our knowledge, no nationwide studies have assessed inequality in noise pollution.
Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors-agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor-increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).
This paper calculates the distribution of an adjusted measure of income that deducts damages due to exposure to air pollution from reported market income in the United States from 2011 to 2014. The Gini coefficient for this measure of adjusted income is 0.682 in 2011, as compared to 0.482 for market income. By 2014, we estimate that the Gini for adjusted income fell to 0.646, while the market income Gini did not appreciably change. The inclusion of air pollution damage acts like a regressive tax: with air pollution, the bottom 20% of households lose roughly 10% of the share of income, while the top 20% of households gain 10%. We find that, unlike the case for market income, New England is not the most unequal division with respect to adjusted income. Further, the difference between adjusted income for white and Hispanics is smaller than expected. However, the gap in augmented income between whites and African-Americans is widening.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published about 5 years ago
Research on social class and generosity suggests that higher-income individuals are less generous than poorer individuals. We propose that this pattern emerges only under conditions of high economic inequality, contexts that can foster a sense of entitlement among higher-income individuals that, in turn, reduces their generosity. Analyzing results of a unique nationally representative survey that included a real-stakes giving opportunity (n = 1,498), we found that in the most unequal US states, higher-income respondents were less generous than lower-income respondents. In the least unequal states, however, higher-income individuals were more generous. To better establish causality, we next conducted an experiment (n = 704) in which apparent levels of economic inequality in participants' home states were portrayed as either relatively high or low. Participants were then presented with a giving opportunity. Higher-income participants were less generous than lower-income participants when inequality was portrayed as relatively high, but there was no association between income and generosity when inequality was portrayed as relatively low. This research finds that the tendency for higher-income individuals to be less generous pertains only when inequality is high, challenging the view that higher-income individuals are necessarily more selfish, and suggesting a previously undocumented way in which inequitable resource distributions undermine collective welfare.
There is limited evidence on which risk factors attenuate income inequalities in child overweight and obesity; whether and why these inequalities widen as children age.
Social science research finds that the only group to have experienced real economic gains over the past four decades is the top 20 percent of the income distribution. This finding, along with greater awareness of growing inequality, has renewed interest in mobility research that identifies how individuals and their progeny move into and out of upper versus lower income categories. In this study a new mobility methodology is proposed using life course concepts and life table statistical techniques. Panel data from a prospective national sample of the U.S. population age 25 to 60 are analyzed to estimate the extent of mobility associated with top percentiles in the income distribution. Empirical results suggest high mobility associated with top-level income. For example, 11 percent of the population is found to occupy the top one percentile for one or more years between the ages of 25 and 60. The study findings suggest that many experience short-term and/or intermittent mobility into top-level income, versus a smaller set that persist within top-level income over many consecutive years. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of inequality buffering, opportunity versus insecurity, and the demographics of income inequality.
Lyme disease occurs in specific geographic regions of the United States. We present a method for defining high-risk counties based on observed versus expected number of reported human Lyme disease cases. Applying this method to successive periods shows substantial geographic expansion of counties at high risk for Lyme disease.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 3 years ago
Economic inequality has been on the rise in the United States since the 1980s and by some measures stands at levels not seen since before the Great Depression. Although the strikingly high and rising level of economic inequality in the nation has alarmed scholars, pundits, and elected officials alike, research across the social sciences repeatedly concludes that Americans are largely unconcerned about it. Considerable research has documented, for instance, the important role of psychological processes, such as system justification and American Dream ideology, in engendering Americans' relative insensitivity to economic inequality. The present work offers, and reports experimental tests of, a different perspective-the opportunity model of beliefs about economic inequality. Specifically, two convenience samples (study 1, n = 480; and study 2, n = 1,305) and one representative sample (study 3, n = 1,501) of American adults were exposed to information about rising economic inequality in the United States (or control information) and then asked about their beliefs regarding the roles of structural (e.g., being born wealthy) and individual (e.g., hard work) factors in getting ahead in society (i.e., opportunity beliefs). They then responded to policy questions regarding the roles of business and government actors in reducing economic inequality. Rather than revealing insensitivity to rising inequality, the results suggest that rising economic inequality in contemporary society can spark skepticism about the existence of economic opportunity in society that, in turn, may motivate support for policies designed to redress economic inequality.
We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”-the fraction of children who earn more than their parents-by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution.