Richer and Poorer: Accounting for Inequality


For about a century, economic inequality has been measured on a scale, from zero to one, known as the Gini index and named after an Italian statistician, Corrado Gini, who devised it in 1912, when he was twenty-eight and the chair of statistics at the University of Cagliari. If all the income in the world were earned by one person and everyone else earned nothing, the world would have a Gini index of one. If everyone in the world earned exactly the same income, the world would have a Gini index of zero. The United States Census Bureau has been using Gini’s measurement to calculate income inequality in America since 1947. Between 1947 and 1968, the U.S. Gini index dropped to .386, the lowest ever recorded. Then it began to climb.

Robert Putnam’s new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” (Simon & Schuster), is an attempt to set the statistics aside and, instead, tell a story. “Our Kids” begins with the story of the town where Putnam grew up, Port Clinton, Ohio. Putnam is a political scientist, but his argument is historical—it’s about change over time—and fuelled, in part, by nostalgia.…


Please note: This listing mistakenly had Robert Putnam listed as an author for a short period of time. Robert Putnam's book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis is discussed in the article. (March 24, 2015)

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 03/24/2015