The Distribution of Wealth in an Ideal Nation

For this demonstration, you will need to think about how wealth is actually distributed in the United States, and how it should be distributed. In each case, divide the U.S. population into five groups (or quintiles). For example, consider the top 20% of the population for ‘‘actual wealth’’—those who are the wealthiest 20%. Because they are the wealthiest, they have more than 20% of all the wealth. However, what percentage of all the U.S. wealth do you think that they actually own? Continue with these estimates for all five quintiles. The five numbers for ‘‘actual distribution’’ must add up to 100%.

1. Actual distribution of wealth

____ Top 20% ____2nd 20% ____3rd 20% ____4th 20% ____Bottom 20%

Now think about an ideal nation. How do you believe that the money should be divided? For example, consider the top 20% of the population. What percentage of all the wealth do you think that they should actually own? Continue with these estimates for all five quintiles. Again, the five numbers for ‘‘ideal nation’’ must add up to 100%.

2. Ideal distribution of wealth

____ Top 20% ____2nd 20% ____3rd 20% ____4th 20% ____Bottom 20%

Now turn to page 452, and check your answers against the percentages that Norton and Ariely (2011) found in their nationwide survey