In 2015, in the United States and Europe, it’s been impossible to escape the problem of rising income inequality. Though it’s been a trend for a long time, this year, the public seemed more aware than ever that income inequality could be the “defining challenge of our time,” as President Obama put it. Is the American Dream dead, we’ve wondered?
The data gives every indication that, if it’s not dead yet, it’s limping weakly. The average American actually makes less than he or she did 40 years ago in real terms. Corporate CEOs now make more than 350 times more than their workers, the highest levels ever (while many companies don’t even pay their taxes). The top 1% now makes 17.5 times the median income in America, up from about six times in 1979. And more Americans live in high-poverty areas than ever in history.
All hope is not lost. In a series of stories in 2015, we covered what solutions to income inequality could look like. From better affordable housing policies to simply giving poor people cold hard cash, the future doesn’t have to be so bleak. The question, which will be a major issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is whether we’ll actually do something about it.
Read our best and most popular stories that explore the nature and implications of the gap between the rich and the poor below.
The U.S. ranks among the lowest of developed countries for upward mobility, despite clinging to the mythology of Horatio Alger.
To fix global poverty, you first need to acknowledge where it comes from.
It’s not just unemployment that matters. Many full-time workers take home less money, after inflation, than in decades.
Due to completely messed up U.S. tax policies, some even got a rebate check.
A look at what extreme wealth means at a time when fewer and fewer people can even comprehend it.
Achieving a more fair society is a defining challenge of our time. In 12 stories, we present an in-depth look at the scope of the issue and the radical, creative, and smart solutions at hand.
Where you grow up shapes your adult well-being, especially if you’re poor—which is why we should worry that communities are more segregated than ever.
Experts don’t know what a poor person needs. But guess who does? Poor people.
Technology, globalization, and political choices all play a role. The current debate is over how much of each. What’s at stake is our future.
Most people are bad at estimating where they fall on the wealth spectrum, and that’s a barrier to creating new policies that grapple with inequality.
While wages stagnate, stock prices rise and the rich get richer.
Should everyone get a minimum inheritance at birth? How about a government-guaranteed income or job? In the face of a growing income gap, we may need to get revolutionary.
For all the talk from both sides of the aisle, we have the makings of another mostly meaningless election buzzword.