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Poverty In The U.S Essay

1066 words - 5 pages

According to a 2013 article in the Economist, the US currently boasts the highest post-tax level of income inequality of any high-income country in the world (Economist 2013). The nations Gini Coefficient – a measure of wealth inequality – currently stands at .42, well above that of other nations such as Switzerland and Sweden, which have Gini Coefficients of .31 and .33 respectively. Unfortunately this high level of income and wealth inequality is growing. Between 1979 and 2011, American earners in the top one percent saw wages increase by 113 percent, earners in the 95th percentile saw wages grow 37 percent (Fuller 2014). However, the income growth for the median worker during that same ...view middle of the document...

Although both arguments have merit as systemic problems, they misinterpret consequence as cause. America's current level of inequality is the primary driving force behind fading levels of equal opportunity, and the increasing difficulty of upward mobility (Reich 2014b).
This sentiment should not be observed or digested lightly, as the current state of poverty in the US is more ubiquitous than many would first assume. A 2014 report by the Stanford center on Poverty & Inequality (2014), outlines the scale of US poverty, and the scope of problems that are affecting social welfare, and upward mobility. According to the report and Fuller (2014), the official poverty rate increased from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2012. Although much of this increase can be attributed to the recent financial crisis, the CPI (2014), suggests that without safety nets the increase would have been 14.5 percentage points higher. This demonstrates the financial fragility of countless people who sit on the fringes of poverty (not included in typical measures of poverty), and the necessity of safety nets. The CPI (2014), findings further indicate that inequality continues to drive poverty.
Inequality extends beyond income, and is undoubtedly present when comparing educational and health quality between the nations wealthy and poor. Although some may argue that these disparities are a result of poverty, this argument is obsolete. Regardless of origin, these inequalities are now contributing to poverty, and dismantling the possibility for upward mobility. Educational quality seems insufficient for the nation’s poor. The CPI (2014), estimates that the gap between the average test scores of children with parents in the 90th percentile of earners compared to those of children with parents in the 10th percentile grew 40 percent between the 1970's and 1990's. Although there is recent evidence of the gap narrowing slightly, it still remains as a significant disparity between rich and poor. Since 2000, the percentage of Americans without any form of health insurance increased to over 15 percent. This increase is closely linked to the nation’s poor, who struggle to afford the increasing cost of health care. Without adequate health insurance, many families become burdened with healthcare debt, further tightening the shackles of poverty, and making upward mobility almost impossible.
The US economy relies...

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