Recent Fracturing In The US Economy And Society

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015

Published In

Eastern Economic Journal


This essay reviews the evidence from the mid-1970s up to 2010 of the increasing differentiation of the richest people from the rest of the population, a phenomenon designated as “fracturing.” Indicators under review include not just income and wealth, but also residential location, education, and health. Most of the indicators indicate that fracturing is increasing, that this process is cumulative, and that it will continue in the future. Public opinion data show that the attitudes and opinions of the richest are also deviating from the rest of the population on many (but not all) social and economic issues, and it seems likely that economic fracturing has had an important influence on this split, but the social implications of fracturing are, however, difficult to isolate.