Michigan Journal of Public Affairs

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Redefining the Problem: Inequality in the United States

Sphere, Seesaw, Imbalance, Horizontal, Contrasts, Comparison

The United States’ image as the land of opportunity stubbornly persists despite mounting evidence to the contrary: American children’s prospects of earning more than their parents have fallen from 90% to 50% over the last century. According to Stanford University economist Raj Chetty, “It’s basically a coin flip whether you’ll do better than your parents.” The shock value of these facts masks a far more subtle and pervasive problem in our country—the way inequality, mobility, poverty, and success is measured in the United States is ineffective and incomplete.

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