Here is a link to 15 statistics about inequality in America.
Here are other resources for examining the components of social class that comprise the "rules" about what is possible in the USA in terms of class:
Income: the highest earning Americans have continued to earn more and more over the last 50 years, while the lower earners have earned closer to about the same. The more money you have, the more you can earn.
What do you think the average household income in the United States is?
Click here to see an answer. Note the percentile for each income bracket and note the median.
If you are interested in how your community's income looks, click on the American Factfinder and search by zipcode. Then click on "Income" and look next to median family income.
For comparison, the average household in the US earned about $52,000 whereas BG earned $93,000, Lincolnshire earned $109,000 and LG earned $191,000.
Here is a link to Marketplace where you can input your income and compare it to social class data in the US.
Also, This graph displays the inequality by occupation.
Checkout this post from Slate about income inequality. You can scroll down a bit and enter your zipcode and see where it stands by comparison.
This video (though politicized) is an accurate portrayal of income inequality in America.
Wealth: Wealth in tricky to understand. It is everything that a household owns, such as the home, vacation home, cars, 401K, savings, stocks, jewelry, etc...But, you must subtract what the household owes. So, if my house is $200,000 but I owe $160,000 then my wealth is only $40,000 on the house. Although tricky to calculate, most research indicates that the wealthiest Americans have an enormous amount of wealth compared to the average American. The disparity is greater than that of income (see the pie graph below). From the Huffington Post, In 2010, "The median household net worth -- the level at which half the households have more and half have less -- was $77,300
How does your family or community compare to the average American?
Average American: 50% own 2 cars, 50% have a 401K, 66% own 1 home, 6% own a second home
This post and video from sociological images shows wealth inequality in the US.
In the US, here are the percentages of adults over the age of 23 who have attained each degree in 2012:
|High school graduate||87.65%|
|Associate's and/or Bachelor's degree||40.58%|
|Doctorate or professional degree||3.07%|
This link shows that on average, the higher a family's income, the higher the ACT score.
And this link shows the higher one's educational level, the more he or she earns.
Here is a post from sociological images that has a lot of info showing the connection between your degree and your income. This graph shows that the less education that parents have, the less education their children obtain.
Location: The price of a home depends on a lot more than the physical structure of the home.
The average home price in the United States in 2012 was $175K. The average price in BG was $346,000. And in LG it was $765,000. Click here to see some houses for sale in Lake County, IL in 2014. Which do you think are the most expensive? Which are the least? When you see the actual prices, why do you think that is?
Here you can find data by zipcode about the average home price ( as well as income and other data).
This report from NPR's Planet Money details how where you grow up can affect your income later in life. And here is a video and stats from CNN Money that show how where you grow up limits or benefits you.
Prestige and power : People view different occupations with different levels of prestige. This prestige can translate to real power such as being appointed to boards or committees. It can also simply give you credibility or respect in social situations. Here is a chart of prestige ratings.
Power, according to Max Weber, is the ability to impose one's will on others. The powerful people are able to keep themselves out of jail, influence politicians and enact laws that are favorable to themselves. Here is one example from The Daily Show comparing teachers and Wall Street Investors. Can you guess who has the power?
Here is a link to a Washington Post article explaining that wealthy Americans use their power to create favorable government policies.
And this article from the NY Times shows that an executive at United Airlines accused of corruption charges was forced to resign. Imagine if a teacher was accused of corruption and was forced to resign. That would be it - out of a job and no compensation. But,
United filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday indicating that Mr. Smisek would receive nearly $4.9 million in a separation payment, and 60,000 shares of stock, valued at over $3 million.
Creating a Social Class Ladder in the U.S.
All of these combine to form a rough picture of social class. Here is one representation of how all of those components might work together:
Look over your information for income, wealth, education, location and prestige. Are they mostly above, average or below? Then try to think where that person falls on this ladder? Why would you place them there? Share this your group.
Was it difficult to share with the group? Why or why not?