[OPE-L:2865] Re: Re: income distribution

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Mon Apr 17 2000 - 11:19:50 EDT

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Re Jerry's [ope-l:2863]:

>I think that e.g. statistics for income *and wealth* for the working class
>(approximately 80-820f the US population, right?), the top 1%, and the
>group in-between (the so-called "middle class") would indeed be meaningful
>statistics, don't you? I.e. statistics on income and wealth *by class*
>would indeed be meaningful. Moreover, it would be revealing to observe
>patterns of differentiation in terms of income and wealth *within*
>classes (btw, a subject that was of great interest to Lenin and many
>Russian Marxists who studied peasant differentiation). Similarly, as I
>suggested previously, it would be meaningful to observe income and wealth
>differentials *within* racial and ethnic groups.

What about income and wealth differentials by gender? A recent Australian
study (Harding, 1997) shows that full time female workers with incomes less
than 500f the median have experienced a fall in real weekly earnings of
about 8% between 1982 and 1994. The corresponding fall for men is less
than 2%. Why is that? Are women more willing to work in low-paid jobs.
Certainly, women are less likely to join unions (although in Australia
unionisation of male workers has also fallen quite dramatically).

Btw how would you define 'class' in this context? In terms of ownership
and control, maybe? Wasn't this E.O.Wright's project?

>I should also note that statistics on the *distribution of wealth* (as
>distinct from the distribution of income) are extremely difficult to come
>by -- yet such statistics would indeed have great meaning.

Indeed. As far as I know, the ABS in Australia have not been able to
develop adequate measures of the distribution of wealth - income is still
widely used as a proxy, or as sole measure of inequality. Surely an
unsatisfactory state of affairs.


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