The Wealth Gap

by Joey Lorigan

One of the largest factors in a person’s life is how much income their family brings in per year. Income undeniably can open up more doors to lead people to greater success. The wealth gap is a topic that divides America into two and can put a wall between people and their success. The wealth gap is playing a big, “road block” because the wealthy are acquiring a majority of the money. According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer finances, the top three percent now hold over double the wealth of America’s poorest ninety percent of families. A socioeconomic class ranking is something that someone attains through their income and their total assets.  Whichever social class a person belongs to can also dictate a number of things that they deal with in their daily lives. Who someone hangs out with, how they spend their money and even a first impression someone gives off can directly be reflected on what socioeconomic class that particular person belongs to. The alarming thing is, how distant the upper class and middle class are from each other. The burning question is, How can a social class like the middle class and the upper class be so close in reputation, yet so far financially?

This brings us to the question, what exactly defines each socioeconomic class and where can that information be found? The answer is the social class hierarchy, or commonly known as, the social class pyramid.

As stated earlier, each American is associated with one socioeconomic class or in simpler term, social class. Income is the only factor that decides one’s socioeconomic class.The social class pyramid that is needed breaks social classes into three level, the lower-class, the middle-class, and the upper-class. The two classes where the wealth gap is the most alarming is the gap between the middle-class and the upper-class.

The middle-class makes up the largest percentage of the total social population. The group named the “middle-class” obviously falls in the middle, above the lower-class, but below the upper-class. They maintain their economic status by working for the various firms. There are two sides to the middle-class, the lower bound, and the upper bound. According to the Christian Science Monitor, forty-six percent of families fell in the middle-class category in 2013 making at least $42,000. 

The upper-class belongs to the people who are wealthy and hold the greatest political power. The members of the upper-class are born wealthy and the wealth passes from generation to generation in the form of estates. A small percentage of the society belongs to the upper-class. The members of the upper-class have their own business ventures and they own various financial organizations. They employ the middle-class and lower-class people for a substantial wage. An upper-income family of four (about twenty-one percent of families) made about $132,000 according to Christian Science Monitor

A piece of the reason for the gap comes from how the upper class and lower class accumulate their wealth differently.

Wealth is a deeper measure of financial well-being, taking into account reserves that a family might be able to fall back on in the event emergencies, like layoffs, and live off during retirement. In the short time following the most recent recession, the families that are in the upper-class have figured a way to regain their footing and regain wealth, while the middle-class families lag behind and still struggle. A piece of the reason for the gap comes from how the upper-class and lower-class accumulate their wealth differently. The Great Recession took out a big portion of the wealth that the middle-class had accumulated.

That issue that is still growing has a lot to do with the way the economy recovered over the past five years. The stock market to care of many losses that occurred during the “Great Recession” in 2008. The more wealthy Americans seem to have their earnings tied up in the stock exchange more often.

Middle-class Americans have more of their wealth tied up in their homes and personal thing as opposed to the investors. The housing market collapse really hurt a lot of middle-class families because the value of their house dropped. If one were to compare the stock market to the housing market, the housing market would be labeled weak.

Upper-income families have regained their footing financially while the middle-class lags. The middle-class has seen very little to no gain. The majority of Americans in 2013 did not feel the impact of the economic recovery.

While the wealth gap has widened since the Great Recession, many people tend to forget that it has been growing at an exponential rate for almost thirty years. Ever since the Federal Reserve started keeping track, the upper-class has nearly doubled its income while the middle class has only increased their money by about two percent.

Many do not believe there is an issue with the wealth gap between the upper-class and middle-class. Many have a belief that the wealth gap, also known as wealth inequality, is a healthy and necessary component of a growing economy. A component of society believes that without a wealth gap, the economy will wither anddie which would leave widespread poverty behind. Those who come from this school of thought do not see a problem in the wealth gap because they believe the “right” size wealth gap is needed to fuel creative ambition that is needed to lead people to want to pursue a better financial future.

There is a problem regarding the upper-class hoarding a majority of the wealth. This leaves the middle-class with little to work with and virtually leaves the lower-class in the dust. A plan must be found to help spread the wealth between all classes, especially between the upper-class and the middle-class. It does not seem right that two socioeconomic classes that are so close together can in reality be so far apart from each other. The income statistics are all that need to be seen in order to realize that there is a problem in the United States regarding the very large (and continually growing) wealth gap. The wealth gap between the upper class and middle class needs to be slimmed down immediately.


5 thoughts on “The Wealth Gap

  1. Allyson Taylor

    I believe that their is an issue in the difference of class , this shows us how their can be two different Americas. But i also believe that people should be aloud to make more money than others. I think the point to focus on is how the difference is made. For example if all of the wealthy people make a lot of money , they better have educations or have a very special skill. I believe that if you do not put much effort into your work you do not deserve to earn a lot of money. Input and output should be a different variation of income. The problem is that many people who make a lot of money got lucky , or maybe didn’t even put a lot of effort into their work. And some people put a lot of effort into their work and do not make a lot of money .

  2. Mindy Raffler

    The wealth gap between the upper and middle classes is something that is never going to change. Like stated in this post there are three socioeconomic classes in America: Upper, Middle, and Lower. America is the “land of opportunity.” This does not mean everyone who moves to America will become wealthy and successful. This simply means we are all given the same opportunities such as public education and public assistance during hard times if needed, just to name a few. America has many public services that can help anyone succeed if they they put their mind to it. What about college? All you have to do is apply yourself in school and you will get good grades and possibly earn a scholarship. If not, there are government funded grants as well as student loans that anyone can apply for. The amount of money you make is not something that should be given to you, it is something that is earned through hard work. It’s always going to be a struggle to not only find a career you like, but to find a career that pays well. As far as the upper class spreading the wealth, their are many upper class families that donate to charities all across the nation; this is partly how we are able to afford some of the services to the middle and lower class families.

  3. Kaitlin Fredericks

    There is a large difference between the lower class, middle class and higher class. I agree with your post that it makes two Americas, and how people live their lives and who people associate themselves with. It makes a difference when there are people that can live their life with no worry about money, and then people that have to worry to make it day to day because of their social class. I do not think that the social classes are ever going to change, but there are ways for people to change what their social class is. One way to raise a social class is to get an education, and that can get someone a higher paying job. Social classes are not given to people; it is something that has to be worked for. A degree can be helpful when getting a new job because it could increase someone’s pay having a degree, then that could increase a social class. Everybody should not be in a higher social class because not everyone has a special skill or degree to put them in a higher social class. People earn the higher social classes, and anyone can earn the higher classes. People had to work for their degree or their special skill, and people should also have to work for their social class. Everyone has the same chance to get an education, have a good paying job and pick their social class if they apply themselves towards their work and education.

  4. James Kodet

    there is a major issue in the wealth gap. and I agree with your post sense there is such a wide range it makes two Americas. when there is such a large gap in between each section each section is treated differently they are all given unequal shares of the cut. for example the rich are given nice cars big houses and food while the poor are stuck begging for food and they are given the label such as when they beg for money they just want to buy drugs beer, when we don’t really know why they are in that situation. and something that stands out to me about this is that with these gaps its is nearly impossible for someone to go from the lowest level to the highest by hard work. yes there has been cases of people who become famous from a sport or music but that does not happen often. When you look at the people who try to work a paying job and they want to work their way up the ladder they always seem to be doing the same things because the way the world is set up that the rich will keep getting richer while the poor stay getting poorer and that is not how the system should work.

  5. Shanale Ward

    I know that there are many people who don’t agree with me, but “happiness” does not come from the economic “class” that you fall in. As humans some of us desire riches and wealth, but many people who fall into the upper class category are still miserable. Me personally, I don’t think that it is at all okay to leave the lower class in the “dust”. It’s funny because I just watched a movie called “Snow Peircer”and in this movie there were only two classes (the very rich and the very poor). The rich would do just about anything to maintain there power and wealth while the poor died daily. To make a long story short, no good can come from selfish ambition, but our country is headed down that road.

Leave a Reply