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What Money Buys: Inequality and the Social Meanings of Income


reviewed by C. Arnold Anderson 1976

coverTitle: What Money Buys: Inequality and the Social Meanings of Income
Author(s): Lee Rainwater
Publisher: John Wiley, New York
ISBN: , Pages: , Year:
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Neither the title nor the subtitle of this book is dealt with directly. Just to handle the first would require a delineation of the income elasticity of various items in families' consumption. Despite a hearty acceptance of economists' contributions, Rainwater does not undertake that review. Instead he moves from the refreshingly candid acknowledgement that poverty has both relative and absolute aspects, to a calibration of judgments (from a Boston sample) as to what income levels mark off "poor," "get along," "comfortable," "substantial," and "rich." Not least important is the discovery that a rater's own income gives little explanation of the large (random?) dispersion in judgments. I find it of interest that Alan Cartter's mid-1950s assumption for a reasonable scale of income differences matches Rainwater's conclusion that respondents would put poverty at about half the median and the rich at five times the median. Surely we should not cavil in discovering that "by... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 77 Number 4, 1976, p. 672-673
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 1318, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 9:16:23 AM

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