Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases data on the income levels of America’s households. A comparison of the annual data over time reveals that the income of wealthier households has been growing faster than the income of poorer households—the real income of the wealthiest 5 percent of households rose by 14 percent between 1996 and 2006, while the income of the poorest 20 percent of households rose by just 6 percent.
Census data show that the income of the rich is growing faster than the income of the poor. But such common measures exaggerate the degree of income inequality. In addition, income inequality is the result of-and not a detriment to-a well-functioning economy.
If such a pandemic were to be anything like the Spanish Flu of the early 20th century, expect not only tens of millions of deaths worldwide but also a blow to the world economy in the hundreds of billions of dollars. See “Headlines from 1918,” too.
A controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision permitted a local government to take away a blighted property from a homeowner because, the court said, the taking served a "public purpose." Research indicates that this method of community development may limit economic growth.
The forced sale of homes for private development usually results in a zero-sum gain and may actually hinder development in the area, economists have found.
College tuition has increased dramatically over the past decade, yet few think the quality of graduates has kept up. Decentralizing the administration and privatizing such things as housing and food service would boost productivity, as would ditching tenure and improving teaching.
Over the past 24 years, the U.S. rate of personal bankruptcies jumped nearly 350 percent. The rate varies greatly among states. Tennessee’s rate last year—the highest in the nation—was more than 10 filings per 1,000 people, nearly four times the rate in Massachusetts.
Natural disasters can be opportunities for politicians. In deciding who gets what aid, they weigh what they can get back in terms of political support, contributions and votes.