The Atlantic

Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don't Realize It)

We asked thousands of people to tell us how equal income distribution would have to be for them to enter society at a random place. The vast majority -- rich, poor, GOP and Democrat -- imagined a far more equal nation.

We asked thousands of people to describe their ideal distribution of wealth, from top to bottom. The vast majority -- rich, poor, GOP and Democrat -- imagined a far more equal nation. Here's why it matters.

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Reuters

The inequality of wealth and income in the U.S. has become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years. One reason for this is that the visibility of this inequality has been increasing gradually for a long time--as society has become less segregated, people can now see more clearly how much other people make and consume. Owing to urban life and the media, our proximity to one another has decreased, making the disparity all too obvious. In addition to this general trend, the financial crisis, with all of its fall out, shined a spotlight on the salaries of bankers and financial workers relative to that of most Americans. And on top of these, and most recently, the upcoming presidential election has raised questions of social justice and income disparities, bringing the issues into focus even more.

It is relatively easy to think about inequality as being too great or too little in abstract terms, but ask yourself how much you really know about wealth distribution in the U.S. For example, imagine that we

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