Friday, December 2, 2011

Wealth Distribution

Harvard business professor, Michael I. Norton and behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, recently conducted a survey of more than 5,000 Americans regarding their views on wealth distribution in the United States. Panderbear finds the results of their survey, as illustrated in the chart, most intriguing.

Wealth Distribution More Unequal Than People Think or Want

Most of the people in the survey think wealth in this country is far more equitably distributed than it actually is. For example, those surveyed thought the top 20% controlled 58% of wealth when the actual number is 85%. Most thought the bottom 60% controlled 22% of wealth. The correct number is 4%.

Somewhat surprisingly to Panderbear, Norton and Ariely found that 92% of those surveyed expressed a preference for an even more equitable distribution than what they thought it was.

Panderbear thinks this is excellent news. The fact that wealth distribution in the U.S. is more skewed than people realize and that even so they prefer a more equal distribution, suggests greater dissemination of facts about wealth distribution will only increase calls for government action. Restoring the progressive income tax rates of the post-WWII, pre-Reagan era would be a good start. We can thank the Occupy movement for helping bring this issue to public consciousness.

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