INCOMES: An Unchanging Gap

Partly to narrow the gap between affluence and poverty in the U.S., the nation has long had a progressive income tax and public programs to help lift those on the bottom of the economic ladder. Yet in its annual report last week the Council of Economic Advisers came to a surprising conclusion: the income differences between affluent and poor Americans yawned as wide in 1972 as they did in 1947.

In 1972 families making more than $17,760, those who constitute the most affluent fifth of the economic hierarchy, earned 41.4% of the nation's aggregate income. Meanwhile, those in the bottom fifth,...

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