By Patricia Hart
Earlier this week, Upshot’s David Leonhardt summarized new research by economist Stephen J. Rose that concluded: "Income inequality has not actually risen since the financial crisis began." Rose’s findings counter conventional wisdom that income inequality has widened in recent years, however, the findings do not consider the important role of wealth inequality. The Urban Institute released an interactive data visualization that helps present a more complete picture of the American economic reality.
According to the data, wealth inequality has increased dramatically over the past 50 years, often along racial lines, with disparities three times as great as income inequality. Since the financial crisis, wealth inequality has grown exponentially as stocks dramatically rebounded compared to housing.
Paradoxically, federal policy to promote savings is typically directed at the wealthy. Jeanna Smialek noted in Bloomberg Business: “The highest-earning fifth of U.S. taxpayers got about two-thirds of the tax refunds and exemptions on things like mortgage interest and property taxes in the current U.S. tax code, while the bottom fifth received less than 1 percent.”
Danielle Kurtzleben of VOX pointed out that such policies have a disproportional and adverse impact on racial minorities. According to the resource, white families have approximately 12 times the wealth of African-American families and 10 times the wealth of Hispanic families.