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Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates: Income Inequality Impairs the American Dream of Upward Mobility

Wednesday, October 22, 2014  |  6:45pm


Topic: Income Inequality Impairs the American Dream of Upward Mobility.


Elise Gould, Senior Economist and Dir. of Health Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute
Nick Hanauer, Entrepreneur & Venture Capitalist


Scott Winship, Fellow, Manhattan Institute
Edward Conard, Visiting Scholar, AEI & Former Partner, Bain Capital

Income inequality has been on the rise for decades. In the last 30 years, the wages of the top 1% have grown by 154%, while the bottom 90% has seen growth of only 17%. As the rungs of the economic ladder move further and further apart, conventional wisdom says that it will become much more difficult to climb them. Opportunities for upward mobility—the American dream—will disappear as the deck becomes stacked against the middle class and the poor. But others see inequality as a positive, a sign of a dynamic and robust economy that, in the end, helps everyone. And contrary to public opinion, mobility has remained stable over the past few decades. If the American dream is dying, is it the result of income inequality? Or is disparity in income a red herring where more complex issues are at play?

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