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CEP US election analysis

Inequality and opportunity: the return of a neglected debate


During this election period many Americans are feeling angry towards the very rich, especially those working in the financial sector, who helped cause the Great Recession and yet were bailed out by the government. Increases in inequality might be tolerable at a time of growing consumption for all, but they become less acceptable when the unemployment rate has hit 10% and real wages continue to stagnate. The chances that those who are born poor will escape from poverty are lower now in the US than in almost any other OECD country. However, neither of the presidential candidates is clear about how they would tackle the fundamental causes of the enormous shift in the US income distribution.


Stephen Machin and John Van Reenen

29 October 2012     Paper Number CEPUSA004

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This CEP US election analysis is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.