Archives de Tag: usa

How Big of a Deal Is Income Inequality?

Pour une fois, un texte en anglais. (Vous pouvez le traduire avec Babelfish)

C’est un article d’un scientifique, William Bernstein, publié par le New York Times.

Il prend notamment appuis sur une étude de l’économiste français Thomas Piketty, qui démontre que le développement de l’économie, de 1972 à 2006, a surtout augmenté les inégalités. Les plus riches ont augmenté plus que les autres leurs revenus.

Certains (les libéraux) considèrent que ce n’est pas grave.

L’auteur du texte cite deux études scientifiques qui tendent à montrer le contraire.

L’une fait un parallèle entre inégalités et le fort taux d’homicides (aux USA).

L’autre fait le parallèle entre le taux d’inégalité et l’obésité. Une autre problème pajeur aux USA.

Voici un extrait de l’article:

For example, researchers Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez calculated that between 1972 and 2006, the portion of income earned by the top 10 percent of the population rose by half; for the top 1 percent, meanwhile, it doubled; and it quadrupled for the top 0.1 percent. For the top 0.01 percent, it rose sevenfold. The current disparities are nearly identical to those of early 20th-century American robber-baron capitalism.

Economic libertarians argue that this growing inequality is unimportant: aren’t the poor of 2008 still far better off in terms of real income, health, life expectancy, and material comfort than even the richest citizen in 1900?

The fallacy of this argument is that human beings do not measure their well-being by absolute real income or longevity — but rather in relative terms. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, a wealthy man is one who earns more than his wife’s brother-in-law.

Further, a growing body of research reveals that the social and medical costs of inequality are high. Here is the tiniest of samplings:

• Among both American states and Canadian provinces, homicide rates closely track income inequality, even after the absolute level of income itself is carefully controlled for. That homicide is not driven by poverty alone is demonstrated by Canada, where, because of aggressive redistributive policies, the poorest provinces have the lowest inequalities and also the lowest number of violent deaths.

• It is becoming increasingly obvious among obesity researchers that the primary underlying factors in this epidemic are social class and income inequality.

It is no accident that the U.S., with the highest income inequality among the world’s developed nations, also has the highest incidence of obesity and its attendant comorbidities: diabetes, hypertension, and vascular disease.

Obesity may also be the reason that the U.S., ostensibly the world’s wealthiest nation, ranks 29th in life expectancy, right behind Jordan and Bosnia. Those who think that these problems are primarily the result of voluntary lifestyle choices should reflect on the difficulty of providing a family of four with fresh fruits and vegetables on a minimum wage salary.

Worse, extreme income and wealth inequality alone may hinder growth. After all “respect for property rights” is really, in most cases, shorthand for “respect by the have-nots for the property rights of the haves.” If those on the bottom rungs do not feel that they are getting a fair shake, the very bedrock of our prosperity crumbles into social and economic apartheid as millions of Americans flee to gated communities, millions more are required to staff the burgeoning private security industry, and yet more millions fill our prisons.