03.17.09 - 03.17.09 International(and hopefully domestic...

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03.17.09 International (and hopefully domestic) Inequality - Inequality does not equal poverty : Inequality is a characteristic of a distribution. Poverty is a certain agreed-upon level, below which a person is considered poor. Rich countries are rich on average but the distribution of incomes can be similar (Japan) whereas in the US there is a very wide distribution - Inequality in what? o Income : there are various types of income (this is still not very narrow). How should you measure it? Two sources you want to know: pre- and post-taxes. The difference between the two tells us a lot about how the state taxes, buying power etc. Also interesting to consider consumption power, wealth (total assets, often very different from a person’s income). For example, in Sweden (which looks very equal), taxes income a lot but doesn’t tax wealth a lot (so it has high wealth inequality). o Wealth: total assets, often very different from a person’s income. For example, in Sweden (which looks very equal), taxes income a lot but doesn’t tax wealth a lot (so it has high wealth inequality). o Education : poverty is transmitted through families, and we know there is a link between education and higher income and better job/social opportunities. In United States, public education is funded through property taxes. This means inherent inequality because of rich and poor neighborhoods. o Also, caloric consumption, tax burdens, access to health care, risk: Having a very secure job in today’s market (exposure to risk) means you have very different preferences than those people who are at higher risk. - Inequality between what? Normative (what is fair, just, right) vs. political science evaluation of inequality. International, and domestic, inequality have a particular type of politics associated with them, which is what we’re studying. We will mostly be talking about income. o Individuals : We tend to think about individuals a lot because we have good theoretical models about how individual distributions impact people’s preferences. It could be, for distributional issues, that this is what we need to study.
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