A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies

New Research & Commentary

America’s Leading Export: Inequality

Luxury offerings have proliferated in China and much of the rest of the world as national elites embrace the trickle-up that has left the United States a model of maldistribution. Photo: Remko Tanis

You don’t have to buy the theories in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century to use his data. And those data show that the United States has become a model for maldistribution.

It’s Morning Again in America or Is It?

Corporations may be swimming in cash. But average Americans have yet to see any real bounce back from the Great Recession. Photo by Sarah-Ji

The low- and middle-income families hurt most by the Great Recession are continuing to receive the least benefit from our recovering economy. So what will it take to ensure this disaster never happens again?

Our Social Darwinists Then and Now

Sociologist William Graham Sumner provided in the original Gilded Age much the same justifications for concentrated wealth and power as conservatives like Paul Ryan provide today.

Modern-day conservatives like Paul Ryan seem to have discovered inequality. But don’t take that discovery too seriously. Their world views still reflect a Gilded Age contempt for society’s struggling.

Is a Living Wage on the Horizon?

Americans will be watching to see how many major corporations follow Aetna's lead on hiking wages.

At least some American businesses are realizing that a fairer economy makes eminent business sense. America’s most insightful business leaders have understood that reality for generations.

Inequality: A Matter of Conflict?

Social inequality is not caused by any technical developments but rather by the 1 percent who have the power to impose it on others.

Any effort to reduce inequality must deal with the fact that inequality is a matter of conflict between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. We must address the deeper processes that permit the 1 percent to win.

Our Grand Fortunes, Our Grand Waste


Good things trickle down, cheerleaders for privilege insist, when wealth concentrates. In real life, notes economist Robert Frank, inequality makes things worse even for its ostensible beneficiaries.

The Privatization of Chicago

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Chicago is becoming a symbol of a nation crippled by the idea that the “public good” rates as an un-American notion. Other cities and states have fought privatization. Will Chicago be able to learn from them?

Why Infrastructure Remains So Crucial


Economic enterprises need many kinds of infrastructure just to have a chance at succeeding. Unfortunately, America has failed to attend even to our most basic infrastructure needs.

Poverty or Inequality: Does It Matter?

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Reducing inequality confronts more basic vested interests than does reducing poverty. That makes the language of inequality much more disruptive to the status quo — which is exactly why we should use it.

Is Philanthropy the Same As Plutocracy?

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Rather than philanthropy, let’s pay hardworking folks a living wage. The Waltons, Kochs, and other wealthy elites won’t miss a meal by doing so — and we can stop relying so much on their charity.

Blogging our Grand Divide

A Sudden Surge of Statistical Confusion

The New York Times and the Washington Post have done some solid reporting on inequality. But this past week doesn’t rank among their finest moments.

Our 100 Most Overpaid Corporate CEOs

The just-released new CEO pay report from the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow ought to become an annual exercise.

Eight Ways To Reduce Global Inequality

By taxing progressively, respecting worker rights, and rethinking economics, we could make a great start at creating a more equal world.

A Budget Plan for the People

The President’s populist budget will leave Republicans scrambling to explain why they don’t support it.

Our Widely Ignored Redistribution Up

If redistribution is so terrible, why do our policy wonks pay so little attention to redistribution from poor to rich?

Are Taxes the Real NFL Scandal?

With all the NFL scandals from this past season, the one that has received the least attention is the easiest to solve: the league’s tax-exempt status.

A Kerfuffle Over Global Wealth Stats

Can we trust Oxfam’s latest numbers on global inequality? Critics don’t think we should. But their pushback is getting pushback.

GOP Finally Discovers Inequality?

First they were the inequality-deniers. Now you might call them the inequality-opportunists.

Can Philanthropy Fix Our Inequality?

Billionaire Bill Gates has a deep faith in the generosity of his fellow billionaires. Researchers in the financial industry don’t seem to share that faith.

Our top reads

Twin Peaks Planet

Between our world’s twin peaks — the ever-richer global elite and the rising Chinese middle class — lies what we might call the valley of despond: the stagnating incomes of the advanced-country working classes. (source)

The Rise and Rise of the Top 0.1 Percent

New research unveiled in 2014 has solved the puzzle in our statistics on economic inequality. (source)

World’s 400 Richest Add $92 Billion in 2014

The globe’s 400 wealthiest billionaires are ending the year worth a combined $4.1 trillion, an average $10.3 billion each. (source)