xvi Preface than the distribution of income. As of 2021, the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation’s households held nearly a third (32.3 percent) of the nation’s wealth (Federal Reserve 2022). Chapter 1, Background and History, provides context essen- tial to understanding today’s income inequality problem in the United States. Stacey M. Jones first outlines the conceptual framework that economists use to understand and measure income inequality. She then uses that framework to trace the historical trajectory of income inequality in the United States. A historical perspective reveals that rising inequality is neither inevitable nor unstoppable. Over its history, the nation has seen eras of rising inequality, but has also seen deliberate and successful efforts to slow and reverse the rise of inequality, such as the New Deal, the War on Poverty, and social movements for greater racial and gender equality. She concludes with a reminder that the choices we make today will shape the next chapter of our nation’s inequality story. In Chapter 2, Problems, Controversies, and Solutions, Rob- ert S. Rycroft documents the rise in inequality in the United States since 1967, and explains why some inequality is inev- itable in a market-oriented economy like the United States. The chapter also discusses theories on why income inequality has increased in recent decades, the societal impacts of income inequality, and various policy proposals to reverse current inequality trends. Chapter 3, the Perspectives chapter, contains a selection of 17 essays written by scholars and educators that investigate sev- eral controversial topics in the field. These essays are intended to supplement and enrich the discussion of income inequality in Chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 4, Profiles, sketches people and organizations that are on the frontlines of the income inequality issue. Some of the profiles focus on scholars, activists, government officials, and lawmakers deeply engaged with the issue of income inequality. Others shine a spotlight on important institutions and organiza- tions heavily involved in facets of the income inequality debate.
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