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Poverty and Inequality: Inequality

Finding information to understand and address poverty and inequality in the U.S. and around the world

Subject Matter and Terminology

Inequality is a word used increasingly as the measures of it have accelerated in the wake of the global Occupy movement. While the most frequent focus is on "income" inequality there is also interest in political and social inequality. The Library of Congress does not use "inequality" as a subject heading instead the following terms are used and should be considered when exploring the growing body of literature.

Democracy - Economic Aspects



Income Distribution



Social Stratification


Other Research Guides

Roxbury Community College "Economic Inequality" - nicely done with many good source suggestions.

Texas A&M Library "Poverty and Inequality" - created for an econ class, particularly strong on data sources

Background Sources

Congressional Research Service Report: The U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility: Trends and International Comparisons, November 2012

Congressional Research Service Report: Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945, September 2012

Congressional Research Service Report: Changes in the Distribution of Income Among Tax Filers Between 1996 and 2006 December 2011

Encyclopedia of World Poverty (2006) online

Annual Review of Sociology. Income Inequality: New Trends and Research Directions: McCall, Leslie; Percheski, Christine. 36 (2010): 329. Rising income inequality from the mid-1990s to the present was characterized by rapid income growth among top earners and new patterns of employment and income pooling across families and households. Research on economic inequality expanded from a more narrow focus on wage inequalities and labor markets to other domains including incentive pay, corporate governance, income pooling and family formation, social and economic policy, and political institutions. We review and provide a critical discussion of recent research in these new domains and suggest areas where sociological research may provide new insight into the character and causes of contemporary income inequality. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]


Finding Articles and Policy Briefs

Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO). Indexes and selectively publishes post-1990 scholarship and reports on international affairs. Provides full-text access to relevant Columbia University Press titles and many recent journals, papers from university research institutes and non-governmental organizations, foundation-funded research projects, and conference proceedings. CIAO also has links to international affairs centers, institutes, and other resources; U.S., international, and foreign government sites; environmental studies web pages; and news media services.

EconLit - Contains citations, with abstracts, to articles from more than 400 economics journals. In addition, subject indexing and abstracts of books and subject indexing of dissertation titles are included. Corresponding printed sources are: Journal of Economic Literature, Index of Economic Articles, and Cambridge University Press Abstracts of Working Papers in Economics.

PolicyFile - database of research and policy briefs from hundreds of think tanks (mostly U.S. based) that address policy issues, both foreign and domestic.

Web of Knowledge - covers all fields of scholarship.


Measure of America - A Project of the Social Science Research Council Measure of America - a project of the Social Sciences Research Council that attempts to "provide easy-to-use yet methodologically sound tools for understanding well-being and opportunity in America."

World Income Inequality Database - from World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Dept. of Labor -Find and download data on income, employment, unemployment, pay & benefits, etc.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) - National and Regional GDP data including GDP by State and Metropolitan Area and State and Local Area Personal Income

Websites focusing on inequality

Equality Trust - from the UK and founded by authors of The Spirit Level whose research shows the impacts of inequality.

Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality - one of three national centers focused on research on poverty.

Too Much - great list of links to other inequality sites, weekly newsletter, and other materials

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