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Does Growing Inequality Harm the Middle Class?

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  • Robert Frank

    ()
    (Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University)

Abstract

Respected economists invoke the Pareto criterion to argue that inequality doesn't really matter so long as no one ends up with less in absolute terms. Using income levels to measure the well-being of individual families, these economists argue that since the rich now have much more money than before and the middle class doesn't have less, society as a whole must be better off. Yet "having more income" and "being better off" do not have exactly the same meaning. I argue that changes in spending patterns prompted by recent changes in the distributions of income and wealth have imposed not only important psychological costs on middle-income families, but also a variety of more tangible economic costs.

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File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume26/V26N3P253_264.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Eastern Economic Association in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 26 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 253-264

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Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:26:y:2000:i:3:p:253-264

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Related research

Keywords: Income; Inequality;

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Cited by:
  1. Hopkins, Ed & Kornienko, Tatiana, 2008. "Which Inequality? The Inequality of Endowments Versus the Inequality of Rewards," SIRE Discussion Papers 2008-13, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  2. Jon D. Wisman & Barton Baker, 2009. "Increasing Inequality, Status Insecurity, Ideology, and the Financial Crisis of 2008," Working Papers 2009-14 JEL classificatio, American University, Department of Economics.
  3. Blum, Matthias, 2013. "The influence of inequality on the standard of living: Worldwide anthropometric evidence from the 19th and 20th centuries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 436-452.
  4. Jörg Baten, 2002. "Did Partial Globalization Increase Inequality? Did Inequality Stimulate Globalization Backlash? The case of the Latin American Periphery, 1950-80," CESifo Working Paper Series 683, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Mehanna, Rock-Antoine, 2004. "Poverty and economic development: not as direct as it may seem," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 217-228, April.

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