Income inequality - a study on perception vs reality

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #1
    A study was done in Germany, looking at how people in assorted European countries and in the USA perceive their country’s income distribution, versus how it actually stacks up, with classes defined versus median purchasing power.

    There’s a related interactive webpage (presented in English) that was cited in a Financial Times piece today. The FT piece itself is behind a paywall but it’s short and really just links to the German study charts.

    Here’s the link to the interactive charts (think you need Flash, anyway they are NOT behind a paywall):

    http://www.iwkoeln.de/__extendedmedia_resources/176927/index.html

    You can click on country flags at the right of the piece and then hover over the bars showing the classes to see the figures. They have helpfully duplicated the charts and clicked on the American flag to isolate and display the odd USA results in the study, so you can leave that set alone and click on the flags in the set of charts that are above that one. It’s fascinating. On the same page there’s a link so you can download the whole study (also in English) if you want.

    Bottom line: it turns out the USA is unique in UNDERestimating the size of the lowest class, which is defined as people having less than 60% of median purchasing power. 32% of the USA is in that situation. But we in the US overoptimistically perceive ourselves as having less than 25% of us in the lowest class. We apparently hold an even more optimistic view of ourselves by perceiving that the wealth share of the richest quintile is equal to 59 percent – in reality it is almost 84 percent.

    One may wonder how much of the discrepancy in US perception and reality has to do with the focus of (increasingly concentrated) corporate ownership of American media.

    The link to the very brief FT piece is below (you can reggie and get 10 freebies per month I think it is) in case you want it. Really it’s just an intro to the study and its link.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/33c9aa64-260b-11e4-9bca-00144feabdc0.html


    A link (free) to download pdf file of the German study:

    http://www.iwkoeln.de/_storage/asse...erception_Discussion_Paper_Judith_Niehues.pdf
     
  2. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #2
    I don't know if you know, but the US very clearly doesn't have a class system (read the constitution), so I don't know how this study could possibly be done.

    :rolleyes:
     
  3. lannister80 macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #3
    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    ― John Steinbeck
     
  4. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #4
    The US does not have a class system, but people here identify themselves with certain classes according to income. We have folks to think of themselves as the Poor, Working Class, Lower Middle Class, Upper Middle Class, Rich and 1%.

    According to my income, I would be in the lower middle class, but I think of myself as poor. I grew up poor, learned early the difference between "needs" and "wants." Because of that mentality, I was able to purchase house with cash instead of a 15 or 30 year mortgage like most of the lower middle class.

    I've seen lots of working class people who think of themselves as middle class and live beyond their means. They rent a place they won't own, lease a car they won't own, charge thing they can't afford on their credit cards. How can you expect to get ahead if 20% of your take home pay is paying off credit card interest. Interest, not principle.:eek: I've seen some middle class folks who live beyond their means as well. Is it any wonder the average American's net worth is less than $0.
     
  5. lannister80 macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #5
    This is is sarcastic...right?
     
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #6
    Should I have added more eye rolls?;)
     
  7. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #7
    Hmm, so it’s not just Facebook rasslin’ with whether we need more satire tags? :D
     
  8. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #8
    I'm curious how you came to the conclusion that there is no class system in the US while simultaneously suggesting that people readily identify by class.
     
  9. Mousse, Aug 19, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014

    Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #9
    There is no DEFINED class system. The class system I used is arbitrary. It's not like 19th century France where they HAD a defined class system: the First Estate (Clergy), Second Estate (Nobility) and Third Estate (everyone else). Not like Feudal Japan were they had the Samurai Class (Highest), Farmers, Artisans and Merchants (lowest class). Not like the caste system in India.

    Everyone is SUPPOSED to be equal in 'Murica. Having a defined class system would shatter that illusion.
     
  10. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #10
    It may not be written into law, but surely that isn't sufficient to ignore (I'm not suggesting you do ignore it) the real problems of class in the US (and elsewhere). I think it is safe to say we have a de facto class system with very real tensions that threaten to shatter the illusion.
     

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