Inequality: Has The Income Gap Narrowed?

Two icons of the Left -- economist Thomas Piketty and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) -- talking about rising inequality last June.  But by some measures, inequality is shrinking.  [Credit: National Review]

Two icons of the Left — economist Thomas Piketty and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — discussing rising inequality during an event last June. But by some measures, inequality is shrinking, not rising. [Credit: National Review]

“The game right now in America is rigged. It is rigged so that those at the top keep doing better and better, and everyone else is under increasing pressure, is under increasing economic strain…And that is the profound danger that we see from great inequality.” Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Democrats are still stinging from last month’s epic defeat at the polls.  Some of them attribute that unhappy outcome to ideological temperance.  The party would do better, some argue, if their candidates took a more strident tone, denouncing the rich, preaching that Washington governs in the service of Wall Street, and calling for more aggressive redistribution of income and wealth to dampen rising inequality.

But a new study published in the Southern Economic Journal pulls at a critical thread of that narrative.  It found that, at least according to one measure of income, the gap between rich and poor actually narrowed between 1989 and 2007. Continue reading