March 17, 2017

If you’ve been paying attention to politics at all over the past few years, you’ve probably heard a lot about inequality. Whether it’s Bernie Sanders decrying the one percenters, Donald Trump explaining the divide among his supporters, or Elizabeth Warren talking about economic disparity. But, what are the real issues surrounding inequality? How is it shaping American life? To answer those questions, we talk to Alexandra Killewald, a professor of sociology at Harvard, and Alan Berube, the senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Three Takeaways:

  • Alexandra Killewald points out that we often talk about income inequality, but wealth inequality - how much money you have - might be even more important. Wealth determines things like whether you can send your child to college or whether you can stay afloat if you’re out of work for a time. 
  • Killewald says that the circumstances of your birth matter even more than you might think when it comes to wealth. As a general pattern, if your parents are 10 percent higher in the wealth distribution, that moves you up 4 percent in the wealth distribution. 
  • Alan Berube sees solutions coming from the local level. “Because the political class that seems most motivated to respond to rising inequality is not in Washington, it’s really in big cities throughout the country… where the rubber meets the road.”

More Reading:

Support for our coverage of environmental issues and sustainable communities comes from The Kendeda Fund.

Kara Miller, Culture, Alexandra Killewald, inequality, Alan Berube

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