Why the Gap Between Rich & Poor Is Widening

An Inside Look at Why the Rich Get Richer & the Poor Stay Put

Shifting Social Norms

Though harder to quantify than technology and tax policy, shifting social norms may also play a role in the growing income gap, say some economists. Society, as a whole, is simply less aghast at soaring salaries than it once was. 

Outlining this theory in a 2002 New York Times column, Paul Krugman explained that after the New Deal and World War II, the national mindset tended towards equality of pay and more humble, community-oriented executives. Somewhere around the 1970s, however, those norms simply began to unravel, creating greater social acceptance for the sky-high executive compensation we see today.