Americans Are Terrible at Estimating Income Inequality

The Atlantic Cities:

Income inequality is an abstract idea, measurable in many ways. And so perhaps it’s not surprising that Americans are terrible at estimating the true extent of the problem (or how fast it’s grown with time).

The question, after all, requires several mental leaps: from our own income, to a sense of where we fit on the national scale, to an awareness of the outer poles of that distribution. There are some serious math and reasoning skills required here.

You may be surprised, though, by exactly how – and how consistently – people get this wrong: A new study in the journal Psychological Science from researchers at St. Louis University and the University of Florida found that most people think income inequality in America is far worse than it actually is. We’re good at estimating how much people at the bottom of the income ladder make. But we’re awful at grasping the top. As a result, we have a distorted sense of one of the most pressing public policy problems of our times.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic Cities

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