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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain the arguments for and against government intervention in a market economy
  • Identify beneficial ways to reduce the economic inequality in a society
  • Show the tradeoff between incentives and income equality

No society should expect or desire complete equality of income at a given point in time, for a number of reasons. First, most workers receive relatively low earnings in their first few jobs, higher earnings as they reach middle age, and then lower earnings after retirement. Thus, a society with people of varying ages will have a certain amount of income inequality. Second, people’s preferences and desires differ. Some are willing to work long hours to have income for large houses, fast cars and computers, luxury vacations, and the ability to support children and grandchildren.

These factors all imply that a snapshot of inequality in a given year does not provide an accurate picture of how people’s incomes rise and fall over time. Even if some degree of economic inequality is expected at any point in time, how much inequality should there be? There is also the difference between income and wealth, as the following Clear It Up feature explains.

How do you measure wealth versus income inequality?

Income is a flow of money received, often measured on a monthly or an annual basis; wealth    is the sum of the value of all assets, including money in bank accounts, financial investments, a pension fund, and the value of a home. In calculating wealth all debts must be subtracted, such as debt owed on a home mortgage and on credit cards. A retired person, for example, may have relatively little income in a given year, other than a pension or Social Security. However, if that person has saved and invested over time, the person’s accumulated wealth can be quite substantial.

In the United States, the wealth distribution is more unequal than the income distribution, because differences in income can accumulate over time to make even larger differences in wealth. However, the degree of inequality in the wealth distribution can be measured with the same tools we use to measure the inequality in the income distribution, like quintile measurements. Data on wealth are collected once every three years in the Survey of Consumer Finance.

Even if they cannot answer the question of how much inequality is too much, economists can still play an important role in spelling out policy options and tradeoffs. If a society decides to reduce the level of economic inequality, it has three main sets of tools: redistribution from those with high incomes to those with low incomes; trying to assure that a ladder of opportunity is widely available; and a tax on inheritance.

Redistribution

Redistribution means taking income from those with higher incomes and providing income to those with lower incomes. Earlier in this chapter, we considered some of the key government policies that provide support for the poor: the welfare program TANF, the earned income tax credit, SNAP, and Medicaid. If a reduction in inequality is desired, these programs could receive additional funding.

Questions & Answers

what does it array
Cbdishakur Reply
what are the differences between monopoly and.oligopoly
Onome Reply
what are the difference between monopoly and oligopoly
Cbdishakur
The deference between Monopoly and Oligopoly: Monopoly means:A single-firm-Industry producing and selling a product having no close business and Oligopoly means:A market structure where a few sellers compete with each other and each controls a significant portion of market .
Basanta
so that the price-output policy one affects the other.
Basanta
what are difference between physical policy and monotory policy
hon
what is economic
Emakpor Reply
what is economic
Cbdishakur
the word economic was derived from the Greek word oikos (a house)and mein(to manage) which in effect meant managing a household with the limited funds available 🙂.
Basanta
good excample about scarsity
hon
An Enquiry into the nature and causes of wealth Nations, this book clearly defined what economic is🙂🙂🙏🙏 thank you...
Basanta
good example about scarcity: money,time, energy, human or natural resources. Scarcity of resources implies that there supply is very much limited in relation to demand.
Basanta
equilibrium is a situation in which economic forces such as demand and supply are balanced and in the absence of external influences,the value of economic variables will not change
Onome Reply
hmnn
Emakpor
marginal cost and marginal revenue is equilibrium .
Kho
yessss
Basanta
what is equilibrium
Rodrice Reply
policy prescriptions for unemployment
Jeslyne Reply
Am working on it
Blacks
Study
Janelle
study
simeon
what are the factors effecting demand sedule
Kalimu Reply
we should talk about more important topics, you can search it on Google n u will find your answer we should try to focus on how we can improve our society using economics
shubham
so good night
hon
ways of improving human capital
kelly Reply
what is human capital
kelly
Capital can be defined as man made assets use in production .
Abdulai
What is the differences between central Bank And Commercial Bank ?. 2 for each
Abdulai
Two types of bank clearing house.
Abdulai
what are the most durable assets of a bank
Ngongang
What is Opportunity Cost?
Cephas Reply
may be defined as expression of cost in terms of forgone alternative.
Abdulai
Helloo, im new, can i get to know more?
Saniya Reply
You ask questions on any topics you find difficult.
Favour
What is opportunity cost?
Cephas
is price elasticity of demand the same as elasticity of demand
Favour Reply
not really
Victoria
hi
Gh
hello
Bhartendu
i hope everyone be ok
Gh
No
Hassan
please explain
Favour
No
William
explanations please
cleophas
price elasticity of demand is the reaction of customers /demand to price changes(increase or decrease) elasticity of demand is the reaction of prices brought about by the change in demand
Victoria
thank you
Favour
state the laws of demand and supply
William
dd: when price rises demand decreases whereas when price reduces dd rises ss: when ss rises the price rises and when ss decreases price also reduces. There is a positive relationship
Dhoonah
nice
Victoria
Draw a demand curve graph
William
though price elasticity and elasticity are used interchangeably, the demand can respond to income changes and prices of related goods as well.
Gurpalak
explain the difference between merit goods and public goods and show why it is possible for profit to be made in the supply of one of these types of good but not the other
Kavishek
Public goods are defined as products where, for any given output, consumption by additional consumers does not reduce the quantity consumed by existing consumers. Merit goods are, for example, education and to some extent the health-care. They are provided by state as "good for you".
ahmed
The ladies are doing much better than the men
Blacks
what happens when there is a shift in demand curve?
Favour
What is Specialization ? Explain in detail
Muhammad
any one ?
Muhammad
specialisation is a method of production whereby an entity focuses on the production of a limited scope of goods to gain a greater degree of efficiency.
Favour
It's ok
Muhammad
hello
Onome
yah
Abdulai
No. price elasticity of demand refers to the manna in which price of good demanded fluctuate mean while elasticity of demand explains the way consumer change in their willingness as they plan or purchase a good
Ngongang
diffirence between demand and supply
Bonny
Demand refers to the quantity of a product that purchasers are willing and able to buy at a various prices per period of time, while,Supply refers to the quantities of a product that suppliers are willing and able to sell at various prices per period of time.
Favour
what is economic
Seray Reply
It is a social science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce which have alternative uses
Obeng
what is norminal wage
Demba Reply
is the wages measured in money as distinct from actual purchasing power
Favour
what is demand curve
Azeez Reply
this is a curve that slop downward from left to rich
Obeng
yes
Basanta
different between capital and wealth
Samuel Reply
Wealth refers to the amount of asset you have, while, capital is the amount of cash money you have with you now and willing to invest in any business.
Favour

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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