Rising Income Inequality - And What Can be Done about It

Christopher Jencks, Harvard University

Disparities in market incomes have increased sharply in all large developed democracies, but the United States does the least to restrain runaway gains at the top and boost family incomes for the poor and middle class. Solutions are available – but only if Americans support government action.

> In two succinct pages, Jencks’ Basic Facts brief encapsulates what social scientists have learned about rising income inequalities and pinpoints the kinds of public policies that could reduce the gaps and improve opportunities and standards of living for most families.

> One of America’s leading sociologists, Jencks has spent forty years doing empirical research on the causes and consequences of social, educational, and economic inequalities in the United States and sister nations. His 1972 book Inequality was a breakthrough in the analysis of the effects of families and schools on U.S. inequalities; and he has gone on to probe the impact of changes in family structure and slow-downs in college graduation rates. Jencks writes regularly for broad audiences as well as fellow academic specialists, and he has helped to shape Harvard’s interdisciplinary Inequality and Social Policy PhD program to prepare future generations of policy oriented social scientists.

September 2014