By Mayumi Herrera
Every passing minute, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. Take a walk down Sunset Boulevard and you will see a fiery red Ferrari casually pass by a forlorn homeless man begging for change, while the rest of us are stuck sympathizing with the penniless and drooling over a car.
This explicit divide is known as income inequality. It refers to the uneven distribution of wealth among a population.
According to Forbes, America’s socioeconomic gap has increased over the last few decades and continues to grow. While many believe the gap is a dangerous threat to the unity of our people, wealth inequality is inevitable and nearly impossible to repair. However, there are ways to improve the nation’s condition with the help of a little more research and knowledge.
Several aspects must be taken into consideration in order to measure wealth distribution. Socioeconomic categories are broken up by several factors including fluctuating levels of income, education, occupation status, social network, and overall wealth. These components structure the United States’ class system into the upper, upper middle, lower middle, working, and lower classes.
Statistics from The Washington Center for Equitable Growth show the average of the top earners in the country to be as follows in 2014: $295,845 for the top ten percent, $448,489 for the top five percent, and $1,260,508 for the top one percent.
However, many elements such as family size, location, and personal beliefs set them apart from the identification of “rich,” despite the amount of money make in a year. “Richness” should be determined by the accumulation of all of one’s lifelong achievements rather than their annual income.
Perceptions on the rich include intelligence, greed, and more greed. A survey done by the Pew Research Center found that 43 percent of people felt that the rich were more likely to be intelligent and 55 percent said they were also more likely to be greedy when, compared to the ordinary person.
The vast majority are a part of the controversial, middle class America. According to Pew, the national middle income in 2014 ranged from $42,000 to $125,000, for a three person household. However, the middle class in 90 percent of United States metropolitan areas shrank and experienced major financial pressures.
The US Government determines the poverty threshold, also known as the “poverty line.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average poverty threshold was $23,834 for a family of four in 2013. A combination of factors that affect a person’s lifestyle cause poverty, such as government policies, unemployment, laziness, and drugs. However, 46 percent of the evaluated in Pew’s survey believed that circumstances beyond control are to blame for the misfortune.
While further divides are happening on both ends of the scale, it is important to stay educated on our nation’s flawed and diverse economy. Despite where you fall under the American economic class system, there is always room for change and improvement. Start by understanding the never-ending debates and discussions the economic gap has to offer. Stay focused, and strive towards your biggest goals because at the end of the day, rich or poor, happiness and well being outweigh both labels.