The Wealth Gap is Enormous but Americans Insist It is a Personal Issue

December 12, 2023
author_image (Chinese: 观察者网; lit. 'Obsr Net') is a privately owned news site based in Shanghai, China.
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A columnist and chief data reporter for the Financial Times in the UK posted a question on the American social platform X, asking if the American Dream would exacerbate inequality.
He then posted a data chart in the post, stating that America’s rich are among the wealthiest in the world, but at the same time, food poverty in America is more severe than in any other developed country.

Furthermore, in the comments section below this post, the author also posted a set of data, stating that the proportion of people in America who go hungry due to lack of money to buy food is not only higher than in the UK and France but also higher than in Lithuania and Slovenia.
He also mentioned that purely based on the data, the extreme poverty situation in America is more severe than in any of these relatively poorer countries.

However, the author mentioned that although there is a huge disparity in living standards between the rich and the poor in the United States, investigations have shown that compared to other countries, Americans are less supportive of income redistribution to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor.
And after becoming aware of this data, they became even less enthusiastic about it.

Does this mean that Americans are not aware of the severity of the inequality caused by the large wealth gap?
No, according to the data, Americans are more aware than people in other developed countries that income distribution in their country is “extremely unfair.”

However, compared to other developed countries, Americans are the least likely to believe that the government should make efforts to narrow the wealth gap. They believe that the large income disparity is largely the fault of low-income individuals themselves.
The author refers to this as the ancient philosophy of “self-reliance” among the American people.

They also believe that although there is a large wealth gap, no measures are needed. According to the author’s statement in the article, Americans believe, “Indeed, some people are rich, some people are poor, it is difficult to accept, but that’s life.”

Then the author mentions that according to surveys, Americans believe they have more upward mobility compared to people in other countries. In simple terms, Americans believe that their chances of improving social status in the coming years are very high compared to other countries.
They seem to firmly believe that as long as they work hard, they will eventually succeed.

Unfortunately, from a statistical standpoint, the United States is one of the countries with the “lowest” upward mobility among developed countries.

The author thinks that it is precisely because of this “self-reliance” philosophy and the longing for a better life that many people believe the United States to be very wealthy, attracting many talented individuals from around the world to come and create wealth in America.
However, the author also believes that this belief makes government intervention more difficult, and solving the problem of excessive wealth inequality becomes even more challenging.

Finally, the author states that these phenomena do not necessarily mean that extreme wealth and extreme poverty must go hand in hand. The author believes that a society where the rich can live well and the poor can live decent lives does exist. However, present-day America has not effectively reduced the wealth gap.

The author also states that after this post was published, many Americans read this article, and as a result, their willingness to not support wealth redistribution became even stronger.


author_image (Chinese: 观察者网; lit. 'Obsr Net') is a privately owned news site based in Shanghai, China.
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