Category Archives: Fast Facts Inequality & the American Dream

Fast Facts about Inequality and the American Dream

Dear students, please find below the Fast Facts section from Rereading America (pages 653-4).


1. A 2017 report from the Institute for Policy Studies shows that America’s three richest men — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett — hold more wealth than the poorer half of all Americans.
2. According to a Census Bureau Current Population survey, for every $100 in income earned by white families, black families earn only $57.30, and for every $100 of wealth held by white families, black families have only $5.04. Americans’ perceptions of this
wealth gap are wildly inaccurate: survey respondents estimated that black family wealth was more than 80% of white family wealth.
3. According to a World Bank estimate, 97 of 149 nations have greater income equality than the United States. Ukraine is the most equal, South Africa the least. The U.S. is comparable to Turkey, Jamaica, Uganda, Haiti, El Salvador, and Morocco.
4. American children born into households in the bottom 20% of earnings have a lower chance of upward mobility than their counterparts in Sweden, Italy, France, or Britain. The probability of these children moving from the bottom quintile to the top
quintile is 7.8%.
5. According to a 2018 study conducted by Temple University and the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 36% of university students and 42% of community college students can’t afford to eat regular meals; 9% of university students and 12% of community college students
report having been homeless at some point during the academic year.
6. According to the Washington Post, the GOP tax bill that passed in December 2017 will produce these changes ten years later: those with an income below $28,100 will save $30; those between $154,900 and $225,400 will pay $100 more; those with incomes
over $912,100 will get a tax break of $20,660.

7. Women who work full time in the U.S. are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. For each dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Asian women are paid 87 cents, black women 63 cents, Native American women 57 cents, and Latina
women 54 cents.
Data from (1) “Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett are wealthier than poorest half of US,” Guardian, November 8, 2017; (2) Emily Badger, “Whites Have Huge Wealth Edge Over Blacks (but Don’t Know It),” New York Times, September 18, 2017; (3) Jason Beaubien, “The Country with the World’s Worst Inequality Is . . . ,” NPR, Goats and Soda: Stories of Life in a Changing World, April 2, 2018; (4) “Americans overestimate social mobility in their country,” Economist, 9; (5) Caitlin Dewey, “The hidden crisis on college campuses: 36 percent of students don’t have enough to eat,” Washington Post, Wonkblog, April 3, 2018; (6) “Republicans say it’s a tax cut for the middle class. The biggest winners are the rich,” Washington Post, January 30, 2018 tax-plans-could-mean-for-you/?utm_term=.643ac4f89c5c; (7) “FAQs About the Wage Gap,” National Women’s Law Center, September 2017, https://nwlcciw49tixgw5lbab.