Rent and the evolution of inequality in late industrial United States

Stephen L. Morgan, Youngjoo Cha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, the authors present the rent destruction explanation for recent increases in inequality, which can be seen as one facet of a broader sociological explanation focused on class-biased structural change. A sociological depiction of the growth of earnings inequality since the early 1980s is presented using alternative partitions of the labor market, including the dominant sociological class schema that (surprisingly) has been used rarely to describe these trends. Thereafter, the authors attempt to strengthen the evidence for the rent destruction explanation by examining the increase in wealth inequality in the 1990s. After presenting these empirical findings, they discuss the extent to which rent destruction can account uniquely for these patterns, as well as other complementary sociological research on the growth of inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-701
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jan

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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