Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality
The Grand Challenge to Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality stems from several startling
observations. First, the top 20% earn 50% of the total annual income in the United States.1 Second, the
top 1% own nearly 30% of the total wealth in the United States.2 Third, the impact of gaps in wealth
and income are particularly pronounced in communities of color3, and income and wealth gaps persist
between men and women. In response, members of this Grand Challenge have called for what amounts
to a new social contract to reduce inequalities in wealth and income, and to close the financial gaps
among racial groups, and between men and women. Their strategies include expanding job creation,
the Earned Income Tax Credit, cash transfer programs, and access to childcare, as well as strengthening
labor standards and creating new policies to encourage inclusive, progressive wealth building.
During the past five years, the network supporting the Grand Challenge to Reduce Extreme Economic
Inequality has organized working groups, published and presented widely, developed a new curriculum
for teaching about economic inequality, authored policy briefs, and advocated for its priorities on Capitol
Hill. Network members also worked closely with the Grand Challenge to Build Financial Capability
and Assets for All. They focused not only on the development of basic income, but on the policies and
supports that relate to the acquisition of stable, living wages, and dependable family assets.
STRATEGIES TO INCREASE INCOMES AT THE BOTTOM
1United States Census Bureau, 2019. Table A-4. Selected Measures of Household Income.
2Brookings.edu, June 25, 2019.
3 Akee, Jones & Porter, 2019. Race matters: Income shares, income inequality, and income mobility for all U.S. races. Demography 56, 999-1021.
Income from Capital
over Income from
Labor in the
from Low-skilled Jobs
Shift & Variable Work
Expand Child Care
to Enable Stable
32 | Progress and Plans for the Grand Challenges