Tony Dokoupil takes an interesting approach to ask Americans if they understand what their “share of the pie” looks like. While trying to ask directly, many mall goers avoid the topic, but when asked to distribute pie to plates representing various bins, Americans learn how wealth is distributed currently. This is similar to work done by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely who fond that Americans have a hard to defining the distribution of wealth in the United States.
Nick, Kurt, and Dale finish production on their new product, the Shower Buddy. After being asked to produce 100,000 units to be sold to Bert Hanson and his son Rex. The three take our a half million dollar loan and start production, but since they have never done this before, they don’t have the Hansons commit to paying for a portion of their order. Hanson cancels his order with a week before the loan is due in an attempt to buy their company in foreclosure. One line is especially poignant as Hanson notes that hard work doesn’t create wealth, wealth creates wealth. One of the issues with wealth inequality is that it’s not a reward for hard work, but rather a reward for previous work. Vox covered the difference between wealth and income inequality in a nicely illustrated video.
The Cooper family is on their way to get a computer unbeknownst to the children. Sheldon’s sister Missy is in love with her pony, even if some of is derived from the fact that Sheldon doesn’t have a toy (known as a positional good). This all changes when their mother announces that Sheldon will be getting his computer. Missy is now upset because she has a “lousy toy” that she loved minutes ago. This scene is a good representation of the issues of inequality despite both parties gaining, the relative gain is unbalanced. The two siblings experience a Pareto improvements in their lives (both gain), but one is happier about the situation than the other.
What does the world look like (wealth and health) over the past 200 years, but squeezed into 4 minutes. Hans Rosling looks at the change in a income and life expectancy for countries across the world over the past 200 years. What’s nice about this visualization is that it’s color coded to be able to show how different regions changed over time. We can also see how globalization has affected major countries like China, Japan, and India.
This commercial is a great opening piece to talk about the differences between equity and efficiency. While both young girls are better off that before (efficiency improvements), they are not relatively better off because one is getting an actual pony (equity issues). One of the hard portions of this concept is to think about this issue as a true tradeoffs that efficiency gains often come at the cost of decreased equity. This increase in inequality between the two girls may be a nice, short way of demonstrating that tradeoff.
Homer has had about 100 jobs during his many years on television and Vox writers have analyzed his work life. If you plan on using a lot of Simpsons clips throughout your course, they may be a good introduction for students unfamiliar with the show.
What are the causes of inequality?
In “Monkey Business,” filmmaker Shola Lynch chats with economists from across the political spectrum to help explain the causes of economic inequality, with help from a couple of mammalian friends.
The top 1% of the population controls 40% of the nation’s wealth. Think about that for a minute. This Vox explainer outlines issues surrounding wealth inequality.