© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A Billionaire's Two Cents: Talking Income Inequality & Wealth Distribution

Income inequality and the shrinking middle class are major themes in this election cycle, and that's just as true in Iowa as it is elsewhere in the country. Iowa, however, is one of the more equitable states in the country. That's according to David Peters, an associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University. 

The distribution of wealth is often talked about with reference to the 99 percent and the 1 percent, but it’s more like the 30 percent and the 70 percent. While the gap is now as extreme, it’s still an issue, says Peters. “Almost a quarter of a million households in Iowa are living on $13,000 a year on average.”

Almost a quarter million of the households in Iowa are living on $13,000 a year. On the other hand, the top 25% own about 47% of the income in the state and make on average $160-170,000 per year. - David Peters

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Peters about the distribution of the wealth in Iowa, and how it’s changed over the last 50 years. Assistant professor David Andersen and Nick Hanauer, who is a billionaire and part of the 1 percent, also join the show.

Hanauer has been outspoken about the super-rich and his views that they should pay more in taxes. “This is a subject that makes rich people very, very uncomfortable,” Hanauer says.

“You don’t pour money into rich people and have prosperity pop out the other end like donuts.”

Hanauer is the author of the book In the Gardens of Democracy and has written about his views for Politico and other publications. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River