ERIC Number: ED123312
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Three Centuries of American Inequality.
Lindert, Peter H.; Williamson, Jeffrey G.
Income inequality in the United States displays considerable variance since the seventeenth century. There is no eternal constancy to the degree of inequality in total income, in labor earnings, or in income from conventional nonhuman wealth either before or after the effects of government taxes and spending. When all the necessary adjustments to the raw data are made, it appears income and wealth were more evenly distributed just before the Korean War than in 1929. Income inequality has shown little trend since Korea. The entire history of inequality also points to the fact that inequality movements are not the result of mere movements among demographic groups, but follow trends in the basic occupational pay gaps as well as in the level and dispersion in profit rates and rents. This essay surveys the detailed evidence that reveals these broad patterns. It specifically seeks to clarify American inequality history. The following outline of topics is followed: growth now--equality later; measuring inequality; postwar stability; the levelling era of 1929-1951; the uneven plateau of 1860-1929 (inequality evidence); the uneven plateau of 1860-1929 (pay ratios and factor shares); wealth inequality trends before the Civil War; the antebellum surge in wage inequality; and the agenda for the study of inequality and economic growth based on this survey of American distribution experience. (Author/AM)
Descriptors: American History, Economic Change, Economic Climate, Economic Development, Economic Factors, Economic Opportunities, Economic Progress, Economic Research, Economic Status, Equal Opportunities (Jobs), Growth Patterns, History, Income, Poverty, Socioeconomic Status, Trend Analysis, United States History
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Univ., Madison. Inst. for Research on Poverty.
Identifiers - Location: United States