The Measurement and Social Consequences of U.S. Income Inequality

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2021

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Abstract

Researchers have long sought to understand how income disparities contribute to other forms of inequality. Inquiries into this subject, however, are constrained by data limitations. These constraints create challenges both for the measurement of income inequality and for the identification of geographically fine-grained economic data. In the chapters that follow, I address these issues separately. To begin, I propose a new statistical method for estimating U.S. income inequality and use Census data to demonstrate the accuracy of this method. I then draw from two data sources to examine the stratifying effects of income inequality. First, I use mobile phone data to explore how income and occupational differences contributed to social distancing disparities in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Next, I draw on mortgage data to examine how the composition of incomes within and between neighborhoods shapes opportunities for homeownership. The methodological contributions of the first chapter open new possibilities for research into how income inequality generates other forms of social stratification. The subsequent chapters provide evidence that rising income inequality in the U.S. has contributed to occupational, health, and wealth disparities.

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Carr, Andrew (2021). The Measurement and Social Consequences of U.S. Income Inequality. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22998.

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