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Trust us, we're with the EPA | Main | Tell me something I don't know

June 13, 2002
The 90's worked...just like the 80s

Andrew Sullivan has a nice essay here on the "poor got poorer" canard:

In fact, the Census statistics show that the boom of the 1990s helped women more than men, and saw poverty among single, poor women, the elderly and children decline. Yes, inequality grew. But that's simply because those at the very top did spectacularly well. Those at the bottom did very well too, and those in some previously doomed groups - such as welfare mothers with children - saw serious gains.
And the portion of the total tax bill paid by the top 5% of the population rose from 28% in the 80s to 37% by the end of the 90s--at the same time the poor were making more money and paying less taxes (the bottom 50% of the population now pays less than 4% of all taxes).
Yeah, those rich guys really get all the tax breaks.
And more bad news here for the class warfare types:
Critics of globalization say free trade and cross-border investment have benefited the rich at the expense of the poor. They argue that the ranks of the poor are growing, and that the disparity between rich and poor has grown.
The truth is more cheerful, says Xavier Sala-i-Martin, an economist at Columbia University. He calculates that the fraction of the world's population below the poverty line (defined as an income of $2 a day in constant 1985 dollars) fell to 19% in 1998 from 41% in 1970.
Overall inequality has decreased as well. One way economists measure inequality is by the Gini coefficient, a zero-to-one scale on which zero means each person in the world has the same income and one means that a single individual collects the world's entire income. Sala-i-Martin estimates the world's Gini coefficient fell to 0.63 in 1998 from 0.66 in 1970.
(Thanks to Daimnation for the link.)
Sala-i-Martin has a great website, by the way.

Posted on June 13, 2002 10:34 AM | TrackBack







"Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat."

--Horace, Ars Poetica, V. 143

["One with a flash begins, and ends in smoke;
Another out of smoke brings glorious light,
And (without raising expectations high)
Surprises us with dazzling miracles."]