Saturday, November 12, 2011

What is Poor?

Co-author Brad Hansen sent this link to the blog Pyromaniacs, which combines the statistics of a BBC video hosted by Hans Rosling, the blogger's own analysis of the U.S. data in terms of the complaints of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and Chrisitian theology.

Brad asked if I had any further thoughts, and the blog suggests several. One thing that I think we ought to consider at the start is that the terms "income" and "wealth" are often used interchangeably, and they are not. (Part of the problem is that "poor" is popularly used as the opposite of both "wealthy" and "high income.") I believe that I recall reading recent data that income in the U.S. has become less equal but wealth has not. How could that be? There are several factors, including greater life-cycle disparities in income that don't translate into wealth disparities, problems with valuation of assets (wealth, such as home values or even wealth intangibles like the social wealth of living in a safe neighborhood), increasing differential returns from education, income statistics that don't capture all aspects of government income redistribution etc.. I'll try to check this out further, and maybe post some other thoughts.

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