Session Objectives • Describe distribution of income and poverty in the U.S. • Define “social class” and describe distribution of social class in the U.S. • Explain how “social class” structures people’s access to “life chances”
Wealth Gap in the U.S. Source: United for a Fair Economy. 2002. http://www.ufenet.org/research/CEO_Pay_charts.html
Change in After-Tax Household Income 1977-1999 Bottom 20% Fouth 20% Middle 20% Second 20% Top 20% Top 1% Source: United for a Fair Economy. 2002. http://www.ufenet.org/research/income_charts.html
Change in Average Household Net Worth 1983-1998 Bottom 40% Middle 20% Next 20% Top 20% Top 1% Source: United for a Fair Economy. 2002. http://www.ufenet.org/research/wealth_charts.html
U.S. Poverty Rates: 1959-2001 Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2002. Poverty in the United States: 2001. P60-219.
Persons Below the Poverty Rate 2001 Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. 2001.
Persons Below Poverty Level by Education of Householder 1998 Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2000. Statistical Abstracts of the United States, Table 761
Persons Below Poverty Level by Age of Householder 1998 Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2000. Statistical Abstracts of the United States, Table 761
Persons Below Poverty Level by Type of Household 2001 Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2002. Poverty in the United States: 2001. P60-219.
Myths The U.S. is a classless society The U.S. is a middle-class nation Members of the U.S. are all getting richer Everyone has an equal chance to succeed Realities There are enormous differences in the economic status of U.S. citizens The middle class in the U.S. holds a very small share of the wealth The middle class is shrinking in size, and the gap between rich and poor is bigger than it has ever been Myths and Realities about Social Class in the U.S.
Social Class Structure in the U.S. Upper Classes <2% Upper Middle Class -- 45-50% of Middle Class Middle Classes 50-60% Lower Middle Class -- 45-50% of Middle Class Working Class 25-30% Lower Classes 20-25% Working Poor -- 60% of Lower Class Officially Poor -- 26% of Lower Class Underclass -- 14% of Lower Class Source: Marger, Martin N. 1999. Social Inequality: Patterns and Processes. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
Examples of Life Chances Renting or Buying a Home at "Normal" Prices Being Free from Discrimination Being Paid an Adequate Salary Surviving First Year of LIfe Having Alternatives Obtaining Stable Job Access to Education Access to Quality Medical Care Having a Normal Life Span Can You Think of Others?
Examples of Life Styles Social Networks Leisure Activities Type of Car Diet and Cuisine Where We Shop Type of Housing Speech Patterns Tastes in Music and Fashion Can You Think of Others?
Social Class and Life Chances/Life Styles • There are class differences in life-styles • Class standing has a significant impact on our chances for survival • Class standing has a significant impact for educational attainment • All Americans do not have an equal opportunity to succeed • Racism and sexism compound effects of classism The next few slides show examples of the effect of social class on selected areas of life
Social Class and Health • Poor families are more likely than non-poor families to be malnourished • Poor families are less likely than non-poor families to have health insurance • The infant mortality rate for poor families is over twice the national average • Average life expectancy is lower for poor families than non-poor families • Members of poor families are more likely than those in non-poor families to work and live in hazardous or toxic environments
Social Class and Housing • Poor families spend a larger proportion of their household income on housing than do non-poor families • Poor families are more likely than non-poor families to live in sub-standard housing • Poor families are more likely than non-poor families to live in overcrowded housing • The number of renters far exceeds the amount of affordable housing in the U.S. • Estimates of homelessness range from 500,000 to 2 million in the United States
Social Class and Education • Children from poor families are more likely than children from non-poor families to attend schools with inadequate funding • Children from poor families are less likely than children from non-poor families to finish high school • Children from poor and working -class families are more likely than children from families in higher classes to be tracked into general or vocational programs in school, while children from higher classes are more likely to be tracked into college-preparatory programs