Piketty on Immigration

Why aren’t poor Americans more up-in-arms over rising levels of income inequality?

December 1, 2014

French economist Thomas Piketty (Credit: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

No one seriously doubts that income and wealth inequality in the United States have risen dramatically over the past three decades. But one question is why rising inequality isn’t more of an issue among the egalitarian-minded Americans in the bottom parts of that distribution.

The reason why, writes French economist Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is related to another big issue dominating U.S. politics:

Immigration is the mortar that holds the United States together, the stabilizing force that makes increasingly large inequalities of labor income politically and socially bearable…. For a fair proportion of Americans in the in the bottom 50 percent of income, these inequalities are of secondary importance for the very simple reason that they were born in a less wealthy country and see themselves as being on an upward trajectory.

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Takeaways

Why aren't poor Americans more up-in-arms over rising levels of income inequality?