Davos 2013: Joseph Stiglitz attacks US 'inequality'

Stiglitz: 'Most citizens have not taken part in even mild growth'

The richest 1% of Americans now hold 25% of the country's wealth and more needs to be done to boost equality, Nobel Prize winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz has said.

Mr Stiglitz, speaking in Davos, said this was a result of the top 1% seeing their wealth double since 1980.

By contrast, he said that the median income level in the US had not changed since the early 1990s.

But Mr Stiglitz had praise for Brazil and the Scandinavian countries.

Speaking to the BBC's economics editor Stephanie Flanders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Stiglitz called for more work to boost the educational opportunities of the "bottom 50%" of Americans, higher minimum wages, and more collective bargaining in the workplace.

"America likes to think of itself as a land of equality and opportunity, the so-called American dream is very deep to our sense of identity," he said.

"The stats show otherwise, the US has one of the worst opportunity rates of any of the advanced economies. A child's life chances are more dependent on the income of his or her parents than most other industrial economies."

Mr Stiglitz contrasted the situation in the US in the past 30 years with that from the Second World War to 1980, when he said the US economy enjoyed "rapid growth in which we all grew together".

Looking outside the US, Mr Stiglitz praised Brazil, where he said a major bipartisan effort over the past 20 years had markedly improved equality in the country.

Meanwhile, he said that the Scandinavian countries were leading the way with the highest levels of equality.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage


  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world


  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop


  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.