An Overview Of Income Inequality In The United States

2267 words - 9 pages

A Brief OverviewOf Income InequalityIn the United StatesI. IntroductionIncome distribution has been critical issue in American society; more and more reports show that the inequality of income has dramatically increased in the last few decades, while the United States' Western European Counterparts are reportedly equal in terms of income distribution.1 When comparing the United States to European countries, America lags behind in terms of income inequality; Western Europe in the early 20th century have developed their own comprehensive programs designed to tackle income inequality in the form of welfare and social security.2 Another comparison that one would make is that the United States' welfare and social security programs are lacking development, hastily derived, and dependant on various entities of authority.3 However, many factors such as attainment of education, race, gender, living status and even the federal government's economic policies play an important role in this issue.II. The History behind Income InequalityFor a few people, history surrounding income inequality in the United States dates back to when Queen Elizabeth was in power in England.4 Queen Elizabeth initialized what was known as the Poor Law in 1601.5 When this law was passed, every town or parish in the area was responsible for the needy.6 The law established three categories for those in need:Those who were unable to work due to sickness or age,People who were unable to find jobs,Those who can work but were reluctant to find a job.7When the American Colonies came to exist, the governments there took a similar approach to helping out the needy and unfortunate.8However, beginning in the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution began to accelerate the trend of poverty and income inequality; fast increasing populations, accelerating urbanization lead to a increasing poor population.9 Nonetheless, the same system enacted two centuries earlier continued, despite being underfunded, poorly managed, and corrupted.10 Eventually, it became obvious that the welfare system at the time became inadequate to support the public.11Meanwhile, European countries by the end of the 19th century were beginning to develop their own complete welfare system to distribute income among the poor and needy.11 In response, American politicians sought to expand or copy the example that the Europeans were setting before them.12 While they failed to initiate an European-style system of welfare and income distribution, and early growth of the American welfare system did not occur until the Progressive Era.13 Examples of the system included workmen's compensation, which incorporated accident insurance to help protect workers from injuries sustained on the job site.14 This seemed like a slow start for American Welfare, but these methods if income distribution we not enormously expanded until the Great Depression.14When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, the country was in an economic mess and...

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