NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 8, 2005

Interestingly, the strongest evidence against rising income inequality -- and declining economic mobility -- is found in the most recent poll, taken in March by, ironically, the New York Times, says Bruce Bartlett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

According to the Times:

  • Some 18 percent of people reported living in the lower class as children, but today, only seven percent say they belong to that class.
  • Another 44 percent say they had a working class childhood, however, only 35 percent say they are part of the working class today.
  • In short, the percentage of the population living in the bottom two income classes fell from 62 percent to 42 percent.

Concomitantly, the ranks of the middle and upper middle classes have increased, according to the Times:

  • Only 28 percent of people reported growing up middle class and just eight percent said they had lived in an upper middle class home.
  • Today, 42 percent of people say they belong to the middle class and 15 percent are part of the upper middle class.
  • Only one percent of the population say they were in the upper class as children and that?s the same percentage that say they belong to this class today.

In other words, the Times found no evidence whatsoever of economic class stagnation or deterioration in the data. Fewer people live poorly and more people live well. The data are unambiguous because people are reporting their relative position in society as they see it. And in this case, perception is reality, says Bartlett.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "The Inequality Myth," National Center for Policy Analysis, June 8, 2005.


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