Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Disparity between the Wealthy and the Poor Continues to Grow

While the growing gap between high and low-income Americans is not new news, I would like to write about how Social Security plays into this gap.

New life-saving vaccinations and other medical advances in the past few decades have improved the health of many individuals. Obama’s health care plan has also helped improve public health by reducing the amount of Americans without health insurance. However, Americans are not benefiting from these advances equally. Those with higher incomes reap today’s benefits because they have the money to be able to access and afford it.

Aside from differences in health, income, and life expectancies, differing Social Security benefits are also contributing to this widening gap between the rich and the poor. Those with low-income jobs tend to retire earlier than the full retirement age (66 years old in 2015) while those with high-income jobs tend to retire at or later than the full retirement age (Brookings). A person’s Social Security benefits increase as they work for more years. Consequently, Americans who earn a high income tend to receive higher Social Security benefits than Americans with lower incomes. Unequal Social Security benefits maintain the disparity between high and low income workers.

As the US continues to experience more advances in technology and medicine, more and more low-income Americans are being left behind while high-income Americans enjoy longer lives and improved living conditions. For people born in 1960 or later, the retirement age will be pushed up to 67 years old for workers to earn the full benefits (National Academy...). Meaning this trend of low income, low benefits and high income, high benefits is likely to continue.

Do you think the government should be doing more to provide welfare for those who need it? Why or why not?
Are there any other disparities between the wealthy and the poor?



Juliana Stahr said...

The government most definitely should be doing more to provide welfare for those who need it. I strongly believe that all individuals should have equal access to health care. ObamaCare has largely contributed to helping those who cannot afford health care by expanding medicaid. By the 2014 open enrollment, less than 13% of Americans did not have health care. While more Americans have received some form of health care, still not all have health care and this should be our goal in narrowing the wealth gap. I do not think the government should hand out free services left and right because this can surely lead to the free rider problem, however, I think as a nation health care is something that should be ensured as a human right. Republicans on the other hand say the law imposes too many costs on business, with many describing it as a "job killer". They have also claimed it to be an unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of private businesses and individuals. While this may hurt businesses, I believe we are being evil by only allowing the wealthy to receive the best care. Yes, there are many other disparities between the wealthy and the poor. I believe education is a big one. I strongly believe college should be free for individuals who work hard and cannot afford it. In today's world, having a college degree is very important and in many careers a necessity. I think we should make college more accessible to the poor to make sure we stand as a nation who provides equal opportunity for all. Let's bring back the American Dream!


Annika Olives said...

I'll deviate from the original post a bit because I came across this interesting article, (, that talks about the difference between income inequality and wealth inequality.

Here's a quick summary: Income is the money people earn from work/investments, whereas wealth is the value of the things people own, (houses, cars, savings, etc). Most people talk about income inequality; the richest 10% of Americans earn about 28% of all of the available income, but this is about the same in all rich countries. However, the same 10% owns 76% of all the available wealth, whereas people in the bottom 40% have essentially no wealth. That's crazy.

Wealth inequality isn't always bad--if it's at the right level, it can fuel hard work and economic growth. But, there is a point where the costs outweigh the benefits and the gap between the rich and poor--the wealthy and unwealthy--gets too large. Those at the bottom shouldn't be kept in the cycle of poverty.