New Views on Inequality Trends in Canada and the United States
Conventional wisdom has it that U. S. society is both richer and more unequal than Canadian society, and that both have become more unequal in recent decades. It is true that earnings inequality increased in both countries from 1974 to 1985. However, in the 1985 to 1995 period, while generally rising in the United States, earnings inequality fell marginally in Canada. At the same time, perhaps surprisingly, polarization-the spreading out of the earning distribution away from the median- fell over the past decade in both nations. Adding in the role of government income taxes and transfers, families' disposable incomes became more equal in Canada, but more unequal in the United States. Finally, a large portion of Canadian families had absolutely higher purchasing power than their U. S. counterparts.
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