Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Prosperity and Inequality: Lessons from the United States
(2008)
  • Samuel L Myers, Jr
Abstract

For most of the post-World War II period prior to the 1980s, the distribution of income in the United States remained remarkably stable. Measures of inequality – such as the gap between incomes of those at the top and those at the bottom of the income distribution – showed little change for nearly 40 years (Darity and Myers, 1998, p. 3). In their book, Persistent Disparity, published 10 years ago, Darity and Myers documented a contemporaneous rise in general inequality and the widening of black-white disparities in family incomes. The ratio of black to white family incomes declined from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Even though the ratio rose again throughout the late 1980s, the ratio was lower by the end of the 1980s than it was at any point between 1967 and 1980. From 1979 to 1992, mean family incomes in the top quintiles increased, while mean family incomes declined in the lowest quintiles and remained largely unchanged in the middle quintiles. In short, general inequality increased from 1979 to 1992. Based on this evidence, a general view has emerged that widening racial inequality accompanied overall increases in general inequality. (Darity and Myers, 1998, p. 8)

Publication Date
Winter September, 2008
Comments
For most of the post-World War II period prior to the 1980s, the distribution of income in the United States remained remarkably stable. Measures of inequality – such as the gap between incomes of those at the top and those at the bottom of the income distribution – showed little change for nearly 40 years (Darity and Myers, 1998, p. 3). In their book, Persistent Disparity, published 10 years ago, Darity and Myers documented a contemporaneous rise in general inequality and the widening of black-white disparities in family incomes. The ratio of black to white family incomes declined from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Even though the ratio rose again throughout the late 1980s, the ratio was lower by the end of the 1980s than it was at any point between 1967 and 1980. From 1979 to 1992, mean family incomes in the top quintiles increased, while mean family incomes declined in the lowest quintiles and remained largely unchanged in the middle quintiles. In short, general inequality increased from 1979 to 1992. Based on this evidence, a general view has emerged that widening racial inequality accompanied overall increases in general inequality. (Darity and Myers, 1998, p. 8)
Citation Information
Samuel L Myers. "Prosperity and Inequality: Lessons from the United States" (2008)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/drsamuel_myers/1/