David Leonhardt Explains What “Income” Means

David Leonhardt’s article “Measuring Inequality Trends during the Great Recession” fills in some of the gaps in understanding that may have lead to readers’ confusion about his arguments in previous articles. In particular, Leonhardt takes the time, here, to parse “income”: what it is, how it is counted, when it matters, etc.


Leonhardt’s article includes the following photo and caption:

1960ImageOfPoverty

President Johnson and the first lady in Kentucky on a tour of Appalachia in 1964. Until fairly recently, there was little research interest in income inequality and problems of the middle class. The focus instead was on poverty, especially among the elderly and in urban slums and rural areas. Credit Associated Press.


Question 1: Is Leonhardt right? Was there “little research interest in income inequality and problems of the middle class” prior to the recent recession?

Question 2: What is the distinction between a focus on poverty and on inequality?

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