Most discussions about increasing economic inequality in the United States focus on the disparity between the top one percent and the rest of the population. But as Brookings Institution fellow Richard V. Reeves points out, the upper middle class is separating from the rest of society at an alarming rate. The upper middle class, which makes up the top economic quintile along with the very wealthy, now holds more than 50% of the nation’s wealth. What’s worse, the top 20% has constructed a highly effective “glass floor” that protects its members from a precipitous fall into the middle class or lower. Reeves shows how the upper middle class wields such tools as exclusionary zoning laws, legacy preferences in college admissions and unpaid internships to shield itself against competition from below. As a member of the upper middle class himself, Reeves is able to reveal these unfair practices without sounding like an anticapitalist ideologue. And he enlivens this relatively dour subject with generous doses of dry wit. This study will benefit policy makers, education reformers, social reformers and labor advocates, and it may spark some soul-searching among the more fortunate.
In this summary, you will learn
- Why the income gap between the top 20% and the remaining 80% of the US population is growing,
- How the upper middle class strives to perpetuate the gap and its own status, and
- How the United States could facilitate social mobility.
About the Author
Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Richard V. Reeves co-directs Brookings’s Center on Children and Families.
Comment on this summary
10 months agoIf you really want to understand why the upper middle class is doing relatively better in the last 50 years read Charles Murray excellent study called Losing ground .The main idea is that the upper middle class makes better life choices and the lower and some middle class are increasingly making poor choices Examples include out of wedlock births ,poor educational effort, more crime ,alcohol and Drug abuse and general family and community dysfunction .These problems have gotten worse for all strata over the last 50 yrs Lower than the upper middle class.His conclusion is that lower classes are Losing Ground while upper Middle has maintained their traditional family structure and values and therefor their financial situation has remained the same or improved.lets not blame those who make good life choices fore the problems of the others peoples bad behavior or failures.
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Richard V. Reeves
Brookings Institution, 2016
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