Causes of Income Inequality

Many people continue to believe that if you work really hard, you will eventually become successful. While there are many definitions for success, it is used here as it applies to increased income. However, global statistics continue to show us that no matter how hard one works, it does not necessarily lead to a wealthier lifestyle. There are many statistical causes of income inequality.

Life chances seem to be more readily accessible to those who come from wealthy families. According to the book, “Culture Counts” by Nanda and Warms, life chances are the potential opportunities that a person might be able to take advantage of in society, which will help them to achieve their full potential.

One of the most influential factors affecting life chances is the income status of the parents. In other words, if a child grows up with poor parents, then it is more likely than not, that the child will also be a poor adult.

Obviously, if a family has plenty of income, then they will be able to offer their children better chances and social connections than the parents who are struggling to put food on the table. The wealthier family will also be able to send their children to college.

While the child from the poorer family might be able to acquire a federal grant or scholarship money to attend college, they will probably need a job to support themselves while they are in college. This extra burden can affect their study time as well as limit their social interaction time with other students, college clubs and volunteer activities. This isolation from their peers can also affect their self-esteem and networking skills.

Another factor related to income inequality is the education of the parents. Often the children of parents who did not finish high school have trouble getting through high school. This could be due to the fact that the parents are unable to help them when they have a problem learning a particular subject, or it could be because there is a lack of motivation or confidence that they will ever be able to achieve more than their parents have achieved.

One of the most expensive luxuries to fund, at least in the United States, is health care.  This is labeled a luxury because only the wealthiest people can afford the average cost of health insurance premiums. Those who work part-time jobs are not usually eligible for group insurance offered by their employer and must pay for any doctor visits, tests and medicines out of their pockets. Often these people never see a dentist unless they have a dental crisis. 

Even those with full-time jobs that have group insurance options are sometimes unable to afford the high cost of premiums. Many of them do pay for the insurance to protect their families, but are still hit hard with the copay and the deductible amounts. These unexpected medical bills lead to extra expenses that can leave a family in financial hardship or ruin, furthering the divide of income inequality.

Causes of income inequality are frequently due to a person working for a paycheck instead of following a dream. There are people with many gifts, talents and skills that are not putting them to proper use. The reasons for this vary, but often it is because a family tends to continue in the same line of work generation after generation. The fear of failure can also contribute to a young person not following their dreams.  

Even though the scenario above sounds dismal, all hope is not lost. There are many groups that are working to insure a child’s success in today’s society. It is up to each individual to protect the rights of all people, and to provide equal opportunities for life chances to people from all backgrounds. A person’s income should not determine their value as a human being. While the government can set the standards for providing equal opportunities, it is up to society to work on alleviating the causes of income inequality.

Nanda, Serena, and Richard L. Warms. Culture Counts: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.