Social Stratification in the United States

The American Profile Poster

Updated for the first time since the 2008 recession, a new edition of the classic book-and-poster set Barbara Ehrenreich called “a unique achievement”

“Ingenious design. . . . A bleak, statistically meticulous, and even-tempered presentation of trends that ought to alarm anyone.”
The New York Times Book Review

Generations of educators, organizers, and activists have relied on this brilliantly designed
book-and-poster set, originally published in 1979, to illustrate the magnitude of America’s economic divide. Today, income inequality is at an all-time high, and awareness of the issue is growing proportionately. The financial crisis of 2008 changed the economic picture for all Americans and helped the richest among us grow their holdings, even as income for the rest of us has remained stagnant.

Folded inside the companion booklet, the now-iconic poster depicts color-coded figures that make it possible to compare social groups at a glance and to understand how income distribution relates to race, sex, education, and occupation. For the first time, the poster has been redesigned to represent the level of educational attainment among American social classes. The
booklet shows how to make the most of the poster in the classroom and beyond and reveals the seismic changes in America’s social landscape over the past few decades with respect to who owns what, who earns what, who works where, and who lives with whom.

This much-anticipated update of the “eye-opening” (Chicago Tribune) presentation of American society, drawn from the 2012 current population Survey of the U.S. Census, will be an essential resource and a touchstone for the current debates over education, inequality, poverty, and jobs in our country.

View the Social Stratification Interactive Visualization.


“Transforms the percentages and media figures you frequently hear into a form you can see and drawings you can grasp.”
New York Daily News
“There is a crippling lack of information . . . with regard to some of the basic facts of the American socioeconomic system. This attractive poster goes a long way toward remedying that deficiency.”
—Robert Heilbroner
“Sort of a Demographics 101 and Sociology 101 presented on a single large sheet of paper.”
San Francisco Examiner

News and Reviews

The Brian Lehrer Show

Stephen Rose appears on The Brian Lehrer Show discussing Social Stratification

Goodreads Reviews