Free Income Inequality Essay Sample
Income inequality has increased in the United States since the early 1970s, thus creating dramatically rising levels of inequality in disposable income compared to other developed democracies. Advancements in both technology and the economy are the most significant causes of the growing inequality; however, politics also play a significant role. Government policies influence income distribution by determining government benefits, taxes, and their influence on the market systems. Income inequality has grown over the years, and in effect, has affected both political and socio-economic aspects of society. Income disparities influence how American politics are structured as those who are economically empowered engage actively in politics, such as donations to political causes and how the affluent are represented in social and economic spheres.
In an analysis by Bivens, the paper found that the aggregate wealth of at least six Walton family members was more than the wealth of at least 42.9 percent of American families. Moreover, the research found that the government disproportionately distributed merit aid to less needy students in the state university systems. About 1 in 5 students who came from households with over $250,000 received merit aid, while only 1 in 10 students from families that made less than $30,000 received the merit aid (Rampell). Corack asserts that parents' earnings determine children's earnings as high levels of income inequality lowers the mobility between generations. Entrenched income inequality is a concern because it significantly undermines an individual's educational and occupational choices, as well as entailing enormous social costs. Equality, just like fairness, is a crucial value in most societies. Therefore, regardless of ideology, religion, race, gender, or culture, income equality is fundamental as inequality implies a lack of income mobility and opportunity, which is a disadvantage for specific segments of the society.
The researcher employed the descriptive study design to collect the data because it allows a researcher to study and describe the distribution of one or more variables without regard to any casual or other hypotheses. To this end, the research design used was quantitative and descriptive. To collect the data, the researchers used an online survey questionnaire. I sent out the online survey link to the sample population through anonymous links, social media, and website links.
In conducting the data collection, the target population consisted of individuals of adult age, 18 years and above, and who were engaged in some form of economic activity through employment or self-employment. Moreover, the target population comprises people from the most dominant races in the United States and included responders from different political affiliations. In choosing the target population, I targeted the white-collar job professionals and casual laborers to have a wholesome data set from different economic spheres within the country.
The sample size that I intended to get responses from was at least 80. The threshold of 80 respondents was so that the data collected would capture at least every demographic characteristic of the survey questions in order to bring out a complete result and analysis. Moreover, within the sample size, that population would significantly capture societal components such as socio-economic and political aspects.
Respondents included 48 individuals (28 males, 17 females); however, some respondents did not fill out their survey forms and ended up submitting them while blank. The respondents were allowed to either fill out the survey form or not. That is, they were granted the consent to participate or not.
In November between 16th and 17th, the researcher prepared an online survey with questions on its responders' income capabilities to collect data. I sent out the link to the survey to the target population randomly and asked them to fill out the questions. At their convenient time, the respondents filled out the survey forms and sent back their responses. An online database would automatically store the responses from where the researcher would access the result and conduct the analysis, interpretation, and finally write up recommendations and conclusions.
Margin of Error
Because I based the research methodology on online surveys, the confidence levels and error levels accounted for non-responsiveness. Therefore, the research's confidence level was at 95 percent, and an error of 4 percent. Of the 48 respondents, three did not disclose their gender identities, while other respondents submitted survey forms that were not filled. This margin of error was allowed to accommodate the questions to which respondents would not respond accordingly.
Income inequality is an issue of both social and economic concern. As such, individuals who are actively involved in economic activities in the society were the responders targeted in this survey. Because politics affect the country's economic advancements, political ideologies and affiliations were considered in the survey. Moreover, socio-economically, the races, gender, and employment status were included in the online survey in order to accommodate every member of the society who contributes towards the advancement of the country both socially and economically. Individuals from both white-collar employment, self-employment, and casual laborers were included in the survey to offer insight into the varied economic activities that earned them income.
With the passage of time and technological advancements, our society has evolved tremendously. Social activism has fought for the inclusion of everyone in societal activities without prejudice to any community member. Socially and culturally, gender identification has been revolutionized to include the LGBTQ community. As such, it is imperative to accommodate all members of the community, especially economically and socially. Moreover, the LGBTQ community also offers its economic services to the economy, and their exclusion from these activities only further widens the income and wealth gap. The LGBTQ community was erroneously excluded from this survey through the rigidity of the question on gender. As a result, they got excluded from this survey.
Further, the online survey did not account for respondents who were disabled. Disabled people contribute to the economy as well and have the right to representation. The effect on the data collected is that in as much as it tried to be socio-economically and politically inclusive, it was not wholesome as the LGBTQ community and the disabled who are also contributors to the economy were omitted.
Demographically, the data collected encompassed varied age brackets and age groups, and it accounted for both the racial and political characteristics of the respondents and gender and education. As shown in Figure 1 above, 37.8 percent were between 18-24, 8.9 percent between 25-34, 6.6 percent between 35-44, and 46.7 percent above the age of 45. The majority of the respondents fell between the ages of 18-44, with 53.3 percent.
Of all the respondents, 28 comprised of males while females totaled 17. At least half of the respondents were single, and 43.5 percent were married, while 6.5 percent were either widowed or divorced, as from Figure 2. The majority of the respondents were white at 87 percent, while the other respondents were at 13 percent of other races. Of the 46 responses on political affiliation, respondents who were republicans were 26.1 percent, democrats at 34.8 percent, independent respondents at 32.6 percent, and others at 6.5 percent.
The majority of the respondents had attained an education level above high school level. 30.4 percent respondents had high school education as their highest attainment, 26.1 percent had bachelor's degree as the highest, 13 percent master's degree, 28.3 percent Ph.D. or higher, and one in trade school at 2.2 percent, as shown in Figure 3. Generally, the majority had at least a high school level education as their highest educational achievement.
Q4: Did you receive income from any sources other than salary last year?
The majority of the responses to this question were affirmative, as shown in Figure 4. 56.5 percent responded in the affirmative that they received income from other sources other than their salaries. On the other hand, 32.6 percent replied otherwise, while 10.9 percent preferred not to respond.
Q5 - Did you receive compensation for social security benefits, child support, disability income, or alimony in the last year?
As Figure 5 shows below, the majority of the responses to the question on receipt of compensation for social security benefits, child support, disability income, or alimony were negative. 84.8 percent responded that they never had such receipts, and only 8.7 percent responded affirmatively, whereas another 6.5 percent wished not to reply to the question.
Q13 - Which option best describes your employment status?
In response to the above question, most of the responses, as shown in Figure 6, were affirmative; 76.1 percent responded that they were employed, while 23.9 percent answered that they were unemployed. The results imply that most of the respondents are engaged in economic activity. Therefore, the target population was well-reached. The target population was actively engaged in the form of economic activity from where they receive income, be it in employment or self-employment. As most responses are affirmative, the data collected is viable for analysis.
Effects of Demographic Cleavages
Q 12: Which option best describes your political affiliation?
Demographic cleavages sort out American citizens into think-alike categories and communities given the racial, social, economic, gender, and cultural changes. Most of the respondents in the survey were majorly white American citizens. Further, the respondents were majorly divided into Republican and Democratic party affiliations in almost the same measure. Therefore, the effect is that one party mostly has an older, whiter, and conservative base. In contrast, the other party comprises younger, more non-white, more liberal, more secular, and more immigrant, LGBTQ-friendly citizens. This polarization of political ideologies has resulted in demographic cleavages with each side of the parties advocating for their policies and practices.
From the question on which option best describes the respondents' political affiliation, the majority, as shown in Figure 7, have Democrat and Independent political affiliations. As discussed earlier, the Democratic party majorly comprise of young, liberal, and secular members. The effect of this demographic cleavage has also affected the response to the following question:
Q 7: What is your age?
As earlier discussed, the majority of the respondents are aged between 18-44 at 53.3 percent, while strongly represented are the respondents aged above 45 years old at 46.7 percent. This representation shows how demographic cleavage influences responses. Additionally, the two categories of the old and the young are very close to each other in terms of the number of responses.
While performing research, data is a critical component that will help arrive at the best and informed conclusions. Data collection methods vary depending on the nature of the topic under study. Therefore, the data collected's analysis and interpretation depends on the quality of the data collected. In collecting data, I used an online survey to disseminate the electronic questionnaires for responses from the sample population. The technology used in online surveys is a new concept and is always evolving. The questionnaires can be prepared online, then disseminated to the various respondents for responses, after which the responses are stored and can be visualized online. The use of online surveys is also cost-effective and not limited to time.
The limitations that arise from the use of online surveys include sampling, ascertainment of the response rate, non-responsiveness of some respondents, maintenance of confidentiality, and other ethical issues. While preparing the survey, I would consider reformatting some questions in their structure and content. For example, on gender, with the advancement both socially and culturally, I would add a section that accommodates individuals who identify as LGBTQ. The members of the LGBTQ community are also contributing members of the society. With the ongoing activism for their inclusion in social issues, the online survey did not consider them; and I would make this change so that the data collected would be wholesome and inclusive of all members of the society.
Moreover, the questions in the questionnaire do not accommodate people living with a disability. In terms of economic development, people living with disabilities should be economically empowered like other people. Therefore, I would add another section to the survey asking about the disability status of the respondents so that the data collected would be inclusive of everyone and become diverse.
Another limitation is on the ascertainment of the response rate. Sometimes a researcher may project a certain level of response rate from the respondents but get a minimal number of respondents from the sample. Given that the data collection method was an online survey, ascertaining the number of people willing to participate in the survey would be very hard. Non-responsiveness from some respondents was also witnessed as some submitted online forms were not filled; they submitted blank forms. The non-responsiveness could also be attributed to technological challenges where one submits an online form thinking it is filled when it is not.
Finally, the identification of the target population online is another limitation. Sending links to the online survey may be deemed unethical as it is considered intrusive. Therefore, by using online surveys, the researcher will not be sure about who will respond to the questionnaire, or even if the respondent was part of the target population. Identifying the target population was a limitation to the researcher because the online survey links were randomly sent out to social media platforms through QR codes and anonymous links. Generally, the respondents were good because they responded to the questions just as I had hoped. Therefore, I would not wish for a different sample of respondents.
Income distribution is a national matter as it encompasses the socio-cultural and political aspects of society. Income and wealth distribution are unevenly distributed; therefore, governments should reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor since social fairness has diminished in recent years. As a result, income inequality as a topic has dominated political spheres. From the study, income inequality has been driven by globalization, migration, and technological change. Generally, income distribution is influenced by various factors ranging from society's social, economic, and political practices.
Therefore, an analysis of the data shows that the responses had some external influences. The United States is a diverse country with individuals from different cultures and ideologies. The diversity is a result of globalization, migration, and technological advancements that have necessitated the movement of people from one country to another in pursuit of economic capabilities. For example, most of the respondents were majorly white Americans. Therefore, compared to the number of respondents who indicated that they were employed, it clearly shows that other races do not have access to most of the country's employment opportunities. As a result, the income inequality between the majorly white Americans and other races living in the United States has increased. The country's social systems favor mostly white people because they are the country's indigenous citizens, unlike the other races who reside in the United States as a result of migration and globalization.
The political system in the United States also influences how the respondents made their submissions. The respondents who responded to the question about their political affiliation as either Republican or Democratic were the majority, while respondents who replied to be independent or other comprised the minority. An analysis of this shows that political policies influence income inequality because some economical decisions directly impact the income and wealth distribution. For example, on the question of whether the respondents had had any receipt of compensation, disability income, alimony, social security benefits, or child support, the majority responded in the negative. Inference to this could be that the respondents consider political policies and systems ineffective in offering solutions to the income inequality problem. Through labor market regulations and institutions, the government influences the wage distributions through policies such as collective bargaining and minimum wages. By responding that they did not receive any compensation, the respondents could have been influenced by politicians who discredit the government's economic policies.
Also, society and most social media influence how the respondents made their submissions. An individual with multiple streams of income is considered a hard worker. Therefore, the majority could have replied to the fourth question about receiving income from other sources other than their salaries to be identified or identified as a hard worker. Famous individuals such as musicians, actors, politicians, and entrepreneurs are sensationally showcased as business-minded for their business acumen. As a result, the responses forwarded regarding the specific question of multiple streams could have been influenced by the desire to identify as a hard worker and with the possession of a healthy business mind.
Finally, in its structure, the online survey itself could be the external influence on how the respondents answered the questions. For example, the questions could lead to leading bias. That is, the questions given to the respondent could lead them to respond according to how they perceive the researcher would want them to. The question on whether the respondent received compensation or social security benefit, for example, could lead them to answer in a way that they perceive would initiate a debate, and in effect, result in untruthful or inaccurate responses. The structuring of the survey questions is therefore important as they could result in leading bias on the respondent.
The implications of the external influences on how the respondents responded to the questions are that most of the responses are biased. As a result, analysis and interpretation of the data could be grounded on information that is not reflective of the facts. Consequently, the conclusions as well as the recommendations will be based on wrong data and lead to extra costs on the researcher's part.