Here’s some info on income inequality and political representation in the U.S. and some correlations with partisan politics (from a presentation by Chris in Labor Studies).
Compiled from the 2004-2005 edition of The State of Working America:
“1. Income in 2000 was slightly less concentrated among the top 1% than in 1929. This means, in 2000, the top 1% held 21.7% of the total income and in 1929, the top 1% held 22.5%.
2. The income of the bottom fifth of the American population grew at 6.4% from 1979-2000, while the top 1/5 grew 70% and the top 1% of America achieved real income gains of 184% since 1979.
3. In 1979, the top 1/5 of American population had an average income 8.4 times that of the bottom. By 2001, the top fifth had an average income 12.3 times that of the bottom.
4. In 1979, the top 1% had an average income 33.1 times that of the bottom fifth of the American public. By 2001, the elite of America had an avg. income 70.5 times that of the bottom.”
“Many of us can come to the obvious conclusion, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. But what exactly does this mean in the context political representation? In a study titled “Economic Inequality and Political Representation” undertaken by Larry Bartels (Harvard University) he found that:
A. Constituents with little or no income have little to no influence in their senator’s votes on issues of concern to them. Well, that’s something that most people could have assumed. But to support the argument, Bartels tested a senators roll call voting behavior and found that a senator’s constituents who fall in the 75% percentile of the American populus have three times as much influence over their senators voting patterns than Americans who fall within the 25% percentile. Quite striking.
Building upon this, Bartels also produced a piece titled “Partisan Politics and the U.S. Income Distribution.” In this, he concludes that income inequality would have decreased over the past 30 years had Democratic Administrations been continuously elected. Obviously, he concluded that had Republican Administrations been continuously elected, the income inequality would have grown. This growth in income inequality would have happened roughly 80% faster than it actually did had Republicans been continuously elected.
A. Americans in the 20% percentile have experienced four times as much growth under Democratic Administrations as compared to Republicans.
B. 4 out of the last 5 Democratic Administrations have presided over declines in income inequality. The one President is Jimmy Carter and Bartels attributers this to the oil shock of the late 1970’s &emdash; something Carter had no control over.
Since we have been focusing on income inequalities, I thought it would be unique to take a peek at the 2004 election. To do this, I took rankings of average state incomes produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The bureau falls under the umbrella of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
1. The average income of the top ranking state is $43,292 and it is Connecticut. The bottom ranking state is Mississippi with an average income of 23,343. In looking at this list, notice the bolded states. These are the states that voted for Kerry in 2004. The others all voted for Bush. Does anything stick out? The states with the least average income tended to vote for Bush.
2. The “ * “ denotes right to work states. We can see from the chart that of the bottom 28 states based on income level, only 2 of those states went to John Kerry. Of those same 28 states, 19 are considered Right to Work.
3. Of the 22 Right to work States, not one single state voted for John Kerry in 2004.