Futuribles Journal n° 422

Économie, emploi - Société, modes de vie

The Rise of Inequality in the USA: On “The Sum of Small Things” by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett and “Dream Hoarders” by Richard Reeves


Ten years after the onset of the economic crisis triggered by the sub-prime scandal in the USA, the global economy is taking off again, but income inequality is not decreasing. For example, the World Bank acknowledged in late 2016 that inequality within the developed countries is greater today than 25 years ago, largely on account of meteoric income growth at the upper end of the scale: in the USA, the richest “one percent” have seen their share of national income double since the 1980s, rising from 9 to 18%. Beyond this “one percent”, two books recently published in the USA show that the upper middle class (the richest 10-20%) in that country are doing well and thus contributing to increased inequality. Charles du Granrut has read these two books for Futuribles — Elizabeth Currid-Halkett’s The Sum of Small Things and Dream Hoarders by Richard V. Reeves — and draws the central lessons from them here. He points out the characteristics of this upper middle class, particularly emphasizing the multidimensional character of the inequalities and this elite’s determination to defend their position and preserve it for their descendants. These are all developments we would do well to watch and take into account in a context of growing resentment against the elites both in the USA and in Europe.

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