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  • Introducing the Issue
  • Isabel Sawhill (bio) and Sara McLanahan (bio)
Isabel Sawhill

Isabel Sawhill is senior fellow and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution and is a senior editor of The Future of Children.

Sara McLanahan

Sara McLanahan is director of the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University and editor-in-chief of The Future of Children.


1. Gary Burtless and Christopher Jencks find that market income inequality in the United States is similar to that in other OECD countries but that taxes and transfers did more to redistribute these market incomes in other OECD countries in the 1990s, with the result that disposable incomes were more unequal in the United States in that decade. Gary Burtless and Christopher Jencks, "American Inequality and Its Consequences," in Agenda for the Nation, edited by Henry Aaron, James Lindsay, and Pietro Nivola (Brookings, 2003), p. 76.

2. Lawrence Mishell, Jared Bernstein, and Sylvia Allegretto, The State of Working America 2004/2005 (Cornell University Press, 2005), p. 214.

3. Authors’ calculation from Congressional Budget Office, "Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates, 1979-2003" (December 2005), table 1-C. The CBO calculations use the Census Bureau’s fungible value measure to determine the cash equivalent of in-kind government transfer payments. The CBO adjusted the resulting measure of comprehensive income for differences in the size of households in order to assign households to income quintiles. Quintiles contain equal numbers of people, but because households vary in size, quintiles generally contain unequal numbers of households.

4. Ibid.

5. Arthur B. Kennickell, "Currents and Undercurrents: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989-2004," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-13 (Federal Reserve Board, 2006), (June 15, 2006).

6. Authors’ calculation interpolating data from Angus Maddison, "The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective" (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2001), tables A1-c and A1-d.

7. Authors’ calculation from U.S. Bureau of the Census, "Historical Income Tables—Families," Current Population Survey, table F-6, (May 18, 2006). The Census Bureau adjusts income data for inflation using the CPI-U-RS.

8. Authors’ calculations using Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, "Table T06-0020. Current Law: Distribution of Gross Estate and Net Estate Tax by Size of Gross Estate" (January 23, 2006), (May 18, 2006); and Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, 2006 Annual Report (2006), tables V.A1 and V.A2, (May 18, 2006).

9. Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Public Law 107-16, subtitle C, "Increase in Exemption Amounts," sec. 521(a). See also Leonard Burman and William Gale, "The Estate Tax Is Down, but Not Out," Tax Policies Issues and Options Policy Brief 2 (Washington: Urban Institute, December 2001).

10. See "School Readiness: Closing Racial and Ethnic Gaps," Future of Children 15, no. 1 (2005).

11. See Jens Ludwig and Isabel V. Sawhill, "Success by Ten: Intervening Early, Often, and Effectively in the Education of Young Children" (Georgetown University and Brookings, 2006); and William T. Dickens, Isabel V. Sawhill, and Jeffrey Tebbs, "The Effects of Investing in Early Education on Economic Growth," Working Paper (Brookings, April 2006). [End Page 16]

12. For a set of specific, evidence-based proposals on effective ways to intervene, see Robert Gordon, Thomas J. Kane, and Douglas O. Staiger, "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job," Hamilton Project White Paper 2006-01 (Brookings, 2006).

13. See George Borjas, Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton University Press, 2001).

14. "Childhood Obesity," Future of Children 16, no. 1 (2006). [End Page 17]



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