The wealth gap between the country's upper-income and middle-class families has risen to a record high, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center
The survey, based on 30 years of Federal Reserve data, shows the gap between upper- and lower-income families also has climbed to an all-time peak.
The median wealth of upper-income families totaled $639,400 last year, 6.6 times the median wealth of middle-income families — $96,500. That compares with 4.5 times in 2007, the year before the financial crisis.
In addition, the median net worth of upper-income families tops the $9,300 median of lower-income families by 68.8 times.
"The latest data reinforce the larger story of America's middle-class household wealth stagnation over the past three decades," the report states.
"The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families' wealth, and the economic recovery has yet to be felt for them. . . . Middle- and lower-income families' wealth levels in 2013 are comparable to where they were in the early 1990s."
Meanwhile, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, says that growing income inequality has taken a major toll on children.
"Though an average American childhood may not be the worst in the world, the disparity between the country's wealth and the condition of its children is unparalleled," he writes in an article for Project Syndicate
The childhood poverty rate in the U.S. is 19.9 percent, the highest among all developed countries, except Romania.
"None of this is because Americans do not care about their children," Stiglitz says. "It is because America has embraced a policy agenda in recent decades that has caused its economy to become wildly unequal, leaving the most vulnerable segments of society further and further behind."
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