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Politics and Economy:
Downward Mobility
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Income Disparity Overview

NOW often looks at the flip-side of the American dream, as in its profile of the struggles of low-wage workers in "Downward Mobility". NOW also keeps track of the high end of the income spectrum. Recently we updated viewers on the fate the past years' corporate scandals. It seems that all the bad press and shareholder outrage, executive pay keeps on rising. According to a August 2003 report by THE ECONOMIST, median senior total pay among America's top 350 companies rose by 10 percent last year, even as median total shareholder returns in those companies fell by more than 5 percent.

How Much Does the Big Boss Make?      

Turns out that American executive compensation rates are quite different from those of the rest of the developed world. In Japan a typical executive makes eleven times what a typical worker brings home; in Britain, 22 times. In America...

According to recent studies, the top one percent — the wealthiest among us — are getting richer and richer. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) has found the United States to be the most unequal society of all industrialized nations. The U.S. ranks last among OECD nations in terms of income equality, yet in 1993 the poorest 10% of the U.S. population was still wealthier than two-thirds of the rest of the world.

In its recent report "The State of Working America 2002-03," the Economic Policy Institute estimated that the bottom 80 percent of American households control only about 17 percent of the nation's wealth. Meanwhile, wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers at the bottom continue to decrease. Worldwide, the story is the same. A 2002 study by the World Bank found inequality growing not only between nations, but within nations.

Sources: THE ECONOMIST; THE WORLD BANK; "The State of Working America 2002-03, The Economic Policy Institute

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