Income Inequality and Economic Mobility, and More from CRS

03.15.12 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Income inequality in the United States is more pronounced than in other developed countries, a new report from the Congressional Research Service finds, while the possibility of economic mobility is more constrained than commonly believed.

“Based on the limited data that are comparable across nations, the U.S. income distribution appears to be among the most uneven of all major industrialized countries and the United States appears to be among the nations experiencing the greatest increases in measures of inequality.”

“Americans may be less concerned about inequality in the distribution of income at any given point in time partly because of a belief that everyone has an equal opportunity to move up the income ladder. A review of the literature suggests that Americans’ perceptions about their likelihood of changing position in the income distribution may be exaggerated,” the CRS report said.

“It… appears that going from rags to riches is relatively rare; that is, where one starts in the income distribution greatly influences where one ends up.”  See The U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility: Trends and International Comparisons, March 7, 2012.

Other new and updated CRS reports that Congress has withheld from direct public access include the following.

Changing the Federal Reserve’s Mandate: An Economic Analysis, March 13, 2012

Cybersecurity: Cyber Crime Protection Security Act (S.2111) — A Legal Analysis, March 12, 2012

Change in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. Policy, March 7, 2012

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, March 12, 2012

Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress, February 24, 2012

Europe’s Energy Security: Options and Challenges to Natural Gas Supply Diversification, March 13, 2012