Advancing a Free Society

The Occupy Wall Street Movement

Monday, November 21, 2011

Will the “Occupy” movement develop into a significant political force? I am doubtful: the movement is already losing supporters in most places where it has been active. Cold weather will accelerate the decline. The movement is losing ground not because the issues it raises are unimportant, but rather because the great majority of Americans and those in other countries with Occupy groups do not sympathize with most of the people doing the occupying.

We discussed the unemployment situation in the US last week, and reform of banks in several previous posts, so I concentrate my comments on the inequality issues raised by occupiers. American inequality in the distribution of incomes, and inequality in many other Western nations, has grown a lot since the late 1970s. This growth can be separated into the growth in earnings inequality across education and other skill classes, and the growth in income at the very top of the income distribution. I start with the inequality by skill since that is what most closely affects the vast majority of people.

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