The Factors Contributing To The Income Wealth Gap In The United States
Even though the United States is argumentatively one of the most developed nations in the world, it is also one of the most unequal in terms of the distribution of wealth between the rich and poor. Each country is given a gini coefficient, which is a statistical number used to measure dispersion among the distribution of income of a country’s population. The United States is in the top 5 countries of inequality and has one of the highest Gini coefficient score of 0.45. The income inequality alone in the nation has increased greatly since the 1970s, as the annual revenue of the bottom of the social structure has decreased and the income of wealthiest people has statistically increased. As a result, the middle class is slowly diminishing into the lower class, while the upper class grows only stronger and more inclusive. The uneven distribution of wealth is tangibly seen with the difference between people's housing, health, and education. This leads to the very prevalent question: Should the factors that contribute to the wealth gap be regulated? The wealth gap has been a worldwide problem since 1929 when the stock-market crashed, leading to The Great Depression and was exacerbated by the United States housing market crash in 2007. While there have been some efforts to minimize this substantial gap, the United States needs to work towards closing up the gap even more so the economy will be able to strive. To minimize the gap, educational programs and labor unions need to be more recognized and regulated in the United States government.
Over the years, the argument of economic inequality in the United States has become quite prevalent. Economic inequality is the measure of economic well-being among individuals in a group or population. Over 78 percent of Americans agree the gap between the rich and the poor is “a big problem”. According to research from Pew Research Center in 2014, 66 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans feel that the government needs to do a lot more to reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else while 33 percent of Republicans believe that the government shouldn't do anything at all. Many may picture the wealth gap as “bad” while other may see no problem. People develop a perception on the wealth gap depending on their well-being or social standing just like in stimulus text #3 called 3D Pavement Art, by Joe Hill, as people view pavement art differently depending on their personal experiences or beliefs. The gap seems to widen and very little is being done to help minimize this gap. Economic inequality in the US is at its peak: the highest since the Great Depression of 1929. According to Jazmin L. Brown-Iannuzzi, professor at University of Kentucky focusing on social psychology, found that the wealthiest one percent of Americans own almost half of the county’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent of Americans own 5 percent of the county’s wealth. This has a negative impact, as it is weakening the global economy and wiping out the American middle class, who “lost economic ground between 1968 and 2010” from 53.2 percent to 46.5 percent in 2010. Over the years the middle class has significantly decreased and will continue to reduce and assimilate into being members of the lower-class. If the gap becomes too wide, it will affect not only the middle and low classes, it will also have a profound effect on the US economy that many wealthy people rely on.
Homeownership plays a substantial role in American economics, as one’s home is a marker of their economic well-being and financial stability. Owning a home is considered an essential part of the American Dream which explains why homeownership is such a significant piece of American culture. The problem that arises is that some Americans have more access to housing than others. For example, minorities don’t have the same access to homeownership compared to Whites. Research findingings by the Pew Research Center stated that in 2016, White households had on average 10 times more wealth than Black households and 8 times more than Hispanic households. To understand why there is such a considerable divide, it is important to consider the basis of the housing market. In order to enter this market, people need to have a substantial amount of money for a downpayment to get started. White people tend to have enough money saved up based on their upbringing and education, while minorities struggle more on average due to their oftentimes lesser education and economic status. To help this matter, programs have started to help support people who struggle with purchasing a home. The U.S. Government has programs such as the Federal Housing Administration, which ensures one’s individual mortgage and the Home Affordable Modification Program, which alters mortgages, to make them more affordable to potential homeowners. In other words, the US government has shown to promote homeownership, which in turn encourages all people to buy houses. This is helpful for people who struggle with issues relating to money and pushes people to look to invest in a home. Having a lower income than the richest of America can not only affect the quality of housing but also cause conflict to one’s access to medical service.
Health Concerns: Poor Have Less Access
Having good health is one of the most important aspects to a human, so it is important that everyone receives the appropriate amount of healthcare. As a result of the wealth gap, higher income individuals have more access to proper medical care compared to lower income individuals. In lower income areas, medicine prices are much more affordable due to the fact that pharmacies look at economic income and base the pricing of medicine on that. The United States buys prescription drugs from Canada, where they cost half the price as they do in the U.S. The imports of cheap prescription drugs allows lower income communities to be able to afford these prescription drugs, but the problem that lies is that the United States is unfamiliar with these imported drugs and risk the chance of intoxicating, or maybe even killing a consumer. Another factor that is threatening to an individual’s health as David Dyjack, who has advanced degrees in public health with a doctorate from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from the University of Utah, mentioned that poor pregnant American women have difficulty accessing medical care, and when they do get access to care they are over prescribed with medical intervention which then leads to a chronic disease. This is very dangerous for not only the mother but also the fetus. This claim is emphasized with the point that the United States ranks the “worst developed country for maternal health outcomes”. If nothing is done to make sure lower-income communities are receiving an equal amount of treatment and care, there is risk that the lower-class will see major problems pertaining to their health.
Education plays a large role in shaping every person’s future and quality of life, which is why many lower class people and minorities end up having lower-paid jobs because of the lack of resources they were provided with in their educational career. Lower income communities usually rely on lower levels of public education (Lauchner 146). According to Gary W. Reinbold, a Professor in the Department of Public Administration and a Faculty Associate in the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies and also received a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, the increased use of technology that U.S. companies provide has caused companies to raise demand for higher skilled workers. This would mean that employees would need to go back to school receive a higher-level of education, a problem for many who cannot afford to go back because they have to provide for themselves and their families.
Education is a huge part of one’s life as it can shape your perception on how you make think, act, or behave. As highlighted in The Historian as a Participant by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., history is often written by the so-called victors, who are often white wealthy men, so minorities are left out of understanding the accomplishments and positive aspects of their own history. Depending on a person’s social standings, one can be exposed to different views upon economic, political, and social issues which will affect an individuals’ knowledge and beliefs due to the life and education an individual can afford. As a result, many minorities see a clearly defined path of low-class and blue collar jobs, which continues the endless cycle of their status of wealth.
To help this, the U.S. government needs to mandate educational programs to the lower-income areas so that the people of that area will be able to advance their education. By implementing affordable “education and job training programs,” citizens of the United States who struggle finding a job, will now be qualified to get hired from jobs that require a higher level of education. If the U.S. makes education more accessible to lower-income areas, then children will be able to expand their education while still young: avoiding future issues of unemployment. According to Stephen Burd, a senior policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America, “associations that represent colleges that specifically serve minority students [are] asking Congress to spend more on need-based financial aid and to help more students at the institutions pursue graduate degrees.” This will help individuals receive a higher level of education which can ultimately get them higher paying jobs. Higher paying jobs often come with benefits that can significantly increase minorities’ well-being.
The Federal Government needs to mandate that all states need to make efforts to move large corporations to poorer areas, which will ultimately increase the access to jobs to lower-class citizens and minorities. The major reason for this solution is the labor unions that come with many large companies. Labor unions are a great way to help minimize the wealth gap, as they make sure that there is collective bargaining between the company or job and the employee, a safe workplace, higher wages, and benefits such as healthcare, retirement accounts, paid sick leave, and in most cases, a pension. According to Patrick Flavin, who is a professor at Baylor University, unions members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members. With all the benefits unions provide, it will increase the wellbeing and lifestyles of minorities and lower-class citizens. Most importantly, it secures one’s job and protects the employee’s from being fires. Nonunion workers could be fired at any given moment except for the exceptions of race or religion. Unions would be beneficial for those who are in need of a job and rely on these jobs to help pay their next bill.
The factors that contribute to the wealth gap in the United States need to be regulated because of the disadvantages it causes the lower-class citizens and minorities. The wealth gap puts restraints on minorities and the lower class when it comes to homeownership and health care. This issue starts at the root of one’s educational standings, which reflect on future jobs an individual can get based off their education level. Wealthier people also tend to grow up in more of a well-rounded neighborhood, which ultimately shapes their well-being and improves their social status and future jobs. To assist with this issue, the United States need to implement programs that help students in lower-income areas receive a higher level of education, which will in turn get them a higher paying job. Also, moving jobs to poorer communities that offer labor unions to their employees will help to diminish this issue. The division of wealth in America is at a point where if no action is taken soon, then it may be nearly impossible to amend it in the future.
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