The United States should aim to fix its income inequality problem by improving education for disadvantaged students and raising taxes on the wealthy, according to a new report from a consortium of developed countries.
The report pointed out that the U.S. has among the highest income inequality and relative poverty among the 34 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
"The US education system is less effective than those of other countries in helping children realize their potential," the report said. "The United States is one of only three OECD countries that on average spend less on students from disadvantaged backgrounds than on other students."
Income inequality can be bad for health, education, innovation and economic well being, the report noted, citing experts' studies.
Also, the U.S. tax and benefits system is much less effective in reducing relative poverty than that of other OECD countries, the report found.
The federal government should refocus its safety net programs to better address the needs of the very poor and shift away from tilting them toward certain demographic groups, such as the elderly and disabled. It should also simplify its lifeline initiatives, which would reduce costs and improve take-up.
Income inequality was one of four areas of concern highlighted in the OECD's biennial outlook of the United States.
The others include:
The OECD projects that the U.S. economy will grow by 2.4% in 2012 and by 2.6% in 2013.
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