Growing Inequality and Racial Economic Gaps

43 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2014

Date Written: 2013


Over the past several decades, economic inequality has grown dramatically in the United States while inter-generational economic mobility has declined, which has challenged the very notion of the "American Dream." In fact, the United States is more economically unequal than most other industrialized countries. Further, there are dramatic and growing racial economic gaps in this country. Despite the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and the various spinoffs it has catalyzed, there has not been any sustained, widespread social movement to address economic inequality in the United States over the course of the past several decades. Furthermore, it is unlikely that a mass social movement will emerge and endure over a long period of time in the near future to address economic inequality and growing poverty. Greater economic equality in the United States is achievable only if policymakers make fundamental changes in certain key areas of public policy impacting education, the criminal justice system, taxation, and families' ability to invest financial and non-financial resources in their children, among other areas. Although it is unlikely that the legal system can serve as a primary tool to reduce economic inequality in any substantial way, there are a number of legal strategies and initiatives that lawyers and legal organizations, including law schools, could pursue in an effort to increase economic equality and security for many Americans on the margins, including for many persons of color.

Keywords: economic inequality, economic mobility, social movement, racial wealth gap, housing, real estate, home ownership, law schools, model statutes

JEL Classification: I30, J62

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Thomas W., Growing Inequality and Racial Economic Gaps (2013). Howard Law Journal, Vol. 55, p. 849, 2013, Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1325, Available at SSRN:

Thomas W. Mitchell (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States
(817) 212-3935 (Phone)

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