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Sociology 3358F/G
Nigmendra Narain

Income versus Wealth: -from the top 10 riches people or families, inheritance is a critical factor -none of them rose from rags to riches -suggests a mix of family fortune, business acumen, and opportunism as key determinants of wealth -only a few acquire the wealth of major enterprises but most own assets (for most adults assets are cars, appliances, furniture, and savings) -some wealthier families own equity in a house and more fortunate ones about to accumulate stocks and bonds -bottom 40% of families own no assets and may owe more than they own -top quintile have increased in wealth -wealth inequality increasing rapidly in Canada (not as much as the USsurpass all industrialized countries in wealth inequality) -only a modest correlation with income and wealth (some wealthy people have low annual incomes) -income redistribution has little to do w/ the distribution of wealth therefore, it may not get at the root of economic inequality Income and Poverty: -the number of homeless people are increasing -homelessness is one manifestation of poverty -poverty lacks an agreed definition -disagreement on whether it should be defined in absolute or relative terms -absolute: focuses on “bare essentials”; suggests that poor families have resources inadequate to acquire basic necessities of life (but what is essential varies from time to time, place to place, group to group -most people think of poverty in relation to the social and economic context in which people live -a relative poverty line also has drawbacks -most definitions tend to be narrow and focus on income -deprivation occurs when a family cannot acquire the essentials, not necessarily when income is too low -income and consumption are correlated but people w/ high net wealth can live off savings w/ low income -the definition may not be important to the poor but it is consequential foe these people -social policies are enacted or not enacted based on the levels and trends in poverty -if show fewer poor people, government will take less action -social policy has impact on distribution opportunities and rewards in Canada -politics can shape the distribution of income and the system of inequality by changing laws governing people’s right to own property ex. First Nations Land -can also entitle people to various welfare benefits and redistributing income through tax policies -poverty definitions are also important research tools for sociologists -Canada does not have an official definition of poverty -instead, statistics Canada reports a low-income cutofflow income threshold that where a family is likely to spend 20% more of its income on food, shelter, and clothing than the average family -most advocates for the poor interpret these thresholds as poverty lines -families w/o any earners are especially at high risk of low income, especially if they are female and lone-parent families -many families move in and out of low poverty b/c of unemployment, reduced work hours, and episodes of poor health -larger portions of families and individuals go through one or more spells of low income over several years Myths about the Poor: 1. People are poor b/c they don’t want to work -in most poor families at least one family member works 2. The overwhelming majority of poor people are immigrants -individuals and family heads who arrived in Canada before 1980 experience poverty at lower rates than Native born Canadians do -higher poverty rates more evident among recent immigrants 3. The welfare rolls are crammed w/ young people who ou
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