A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies

Inequality-Related Reports

A sampling of the latest new studies that address our economic divide. To see a fuller listing of recent free-to-read reports, organized by month, visit our Inequality Report Archive.

50-Country Comparison of Child and Youth Fitness Levels, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, September 2016.

This study finds that children and youth from nations with small gaps between rich and poor appear to be more physically fit. U.S. children rate 47th in fitness levels.

The Ever-Growing Gap: Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drivegrowing-gap-report-cover-309x400
the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come
, Institute for Policy Studies and Corporation for Enterprise Development, August 2016

Wealth plays an essential role in achieving financial security and opportunity. This report examines our country’s growing racial wealth divide and the trajectory of that divide. One of the key findings: If average black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth white families have today.

Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013, Congressional Budget Office, August 18, 2016

Over the last three decades.America’s total family wealth has more than doubled, to $67 trillion. But most average American families haven’t seen a nickel of that gain. In fact, the typical American family headed by someone under age 65 actually lost wealth between 1989 and 2013, after adjusting for inflation.

unicefFairness for Children: A League Table of Inequality in Child Well-Being in Rich CountriesUNICEFApril 2016

A new study from UNICEF shows growing inequality among young people in wealthy countries. The report ranks 41 countries on how far they allow disadvantaged children to fall behind in income, educational achievement, and life satisfaction.

Denmark, one of the world’s most equal nations, ranks first overall in child well-being. Some of the richest nations in the world are among the worst for overall child well-being. France, Italy, and Canada, all rank in the bottom-third of countries. Luxembourg, which has the highest income per person in the European Union, only ranks 29th out of 35 countries.

The Price of Privilege: Extreme Wealth, Unaccountable Power, and the Fight for Equality, ActionAid, April 2016

The world’s richest 64 individuals control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people combined. This horrifying reality leads to a number of problems. Most significantly, an inordinate amount of power is in the hands of the very richest. Whether in multi-party systems or in authoritarian dictatorships, they find a way to make countries’ social, economic, and political systems work in their interests. The good news is that we know a lot about what policies are necessary to combat inequality. The bad news is that implementation is largely a problem of politics, not policy.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.49.34 PMAn Economy for the 1%:  How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme Inequality and How This can be Stopped, Oxfam, January 2016

In 2010 the world’s 388 richest billionaires had a combined fortune that equaled the net worth of the poorest half of the world’s population. But last year just 62 top billionaires had enough net worth to match the wealth of humanity’s poorest half, 3.6 billion people.

Since 2010, those 3.6 billion folks have together lost just over $1 trillion — 41 percent — of their household wealth. The richest 62 of our global billionaire class, meanwhile, have gained $542 billion over that same time span, a 44 percent increase in their personal net worth.

Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger, CEO Stock(ing) Stuffers, Institute for Policy Studies and Center for Effective Government, December 2015

Tax law currently lets corporations fully deduct all executive pay the companies self-define as “performance-based.” Over the course of the 2014 tax year, 10 American corporations shaved $182 million off their taxes by claiming deductions for the “performance pay” they shoveled into their executive suites.

forbes400-cover-537x695Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us, Institute for Policy Studies, December 2015

America’s 20 wealthiest people, this study details, now own more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population combined. The Forbes 400 overall hold more wealth than the nation’s bottom 61 percent. Several steps could help close the growing gap between the ultra wealthy and everyone else. Among them: cracking down on offshore tax havens and tax code loopholes. The report also proposes a direct tax on wealth to break up grand fortunes and generate trillions in new revenue to invest in wealth building opportunities for working families.

Paul Marsland, Pay Ratios: Just Do It, High Pay Centre, November 2015

This report explores whether the UK should require firms to disclose the ratio between their CEO and typical worker compensation. That disclosure will be mandatory in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled, starting in 2017. The report tackles the technical issues that surround ratio disclosure, everything from defining pay and taking workers in subsidiaries into account, and also examines the more philosophical objections that corporate leaders have raised to mandated disclosure.

Two-RetirementsCover-630x815Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger, A Tale of Two Retirements, Institute for Policy Studies and Center for Effective Government, October 2015

This report offers detailed statistics on the staggering gap between the retirement assets of Fortune 500 CEOs and the rest of America. The 100 largest CEO retirement packages, the latest stats show, average $49.3 million each. Together, these CEO retirement assets equal the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American families. The report also examines various policy shifts that have favored corporate executives and identifies reforms that could limit CEO retirement subsidies and ensure a dignified retirement for ordinary Americans.

Matthew Lacombe, Benjamin Page, and Jason Seawright, Stealth Politics by U.S. Billionaires, American Political Science Association, September 2015

Do America’s billionaires let the public “judge the reasoning” behind their political stands? Or do top billionaires “act quietly, even secretly” and push unpopular policies without “exposing themselves to judgment or debate?” This analysis of a decade of billionaire political involvement finds that many billionaires are practicing a deliberate “stealth politics” by working behind the scenes “to influence public policy in directions not favored by average Americans.”