The Great Gatsby Curve: A Lesson in Economics

Drew_Pearson_photoIt’s the summer of Gatsby! Everyone is rushing to re-read the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic before heading off to see Leonardo diCaprio in a cool, air-conditioned theater. But the literary classic that shed a little light on the haves and have-nots (albeit fictional ones), has presented an opportunity for the White House to find a pop culture meme with which to spread its message about income inequality.

It seems that, as in Jay Gatsby’s pre-depression 1920s, as the rich get richer, the poor might not actually get poorer, but the opportunities to pull oneself into a higher economic strata diminish.  The economist who coined the Gatsby analogy, Alan Krueger, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, explained it this way:

“The Great Gatsby Curve illustrates the connection between concentration of wealth in one generation and the ability of those in the next generation to move up the economic ladder compared to their parents.

“The curve shows that children from poor families are less likely to improve their economic status as adults in countries where income inequality was higher – meaning wealth was concentrated in fewer hands – around the time those children were growing up.”

image001

According to the White House, this type of inequality spread has been on then rise since 1980 — you know, an era when many conservatives were in love with the idea of President Ronald Reagan and his “trickle down” economic theories?

By making this argument, and comparing our economy with those of other countries, President Obama is hoping to bolster his case for the need for improving early education opportunities as a path to better economic situations for coming generations.

What do you think — is this a fair analogy, or just a way to get a little summer blockbuster attention?

Joanne Bamberger is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Broad Side.  She was formerly known around these internet parts as PunditMom, but now she is trying to be herself. She is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (an Amazon.com bestseller and now available in E-book form!). She was recently awarded the Campaigns & Elections Magazine/CampaignTech 2013 Advocacy Innovator Award for her research and writing on the power and influence of women online. And, yes, Joanne did diligently re-read The Great Gatsby in anticipation of seeing it in the theater this summer.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
I Married for Health Insurance
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
Fascism Facts
I Married for Health Insurance
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread