A survey released this month by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research finds Americans are much less concerned about income inequality than Europeans.
Despite similar perceptions about the distribution of income as the Germans and French, only 30 percent of Americans believe “differences in income in [their country] are too large” versus 50 percent of the Germans and 70 percent of the French.
Why might Americans be much less concerned about inequality? Perhaps, middle and working class Americans recognize they have benefited from the outsized success of America’s 1 percent. The demand created by that success has grown employment more than twice as much as in France and Germany—a 50 percent increase in employment since 1980. This has put upward pressure on wages despite downward pressure from immigration and open trade.
According to OECD estimates, U.S. median family disposable incomes (i.e., after healthcare expenditures) are 30 percent more than Germany and France. A more conservative estimate suggests median U.S. disposable income is 15 percent higher than Germany and 25 percent higher than France.