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date: 01 October 2023

Reducing "Extreme Economic Inequality": A Social Work Grand Challengelocked

Reducing "Extreme Economic Inequality": A Social Work Grand Challengelocked

  • Laura Lein, Laura LeinUniversity of Michigan
  • Jennifer Romich, Jennifer RomichUniversity of Washington
  • Trina R. Williams ShanksTrina R. Williams ShanksUniversity of Michigan
  •  and Dominique CrumpDominique CrumpUniversity of Michigan


The Social Work Grand Challenge to reduce economic inequality is one of 13 Grand Challenges guiding future practice, research, and education. This article on the Grand Challenge to reduce extreme economic inequality documents the problem, probes the mechanisms by which inequality continues and deepens, and proposes approaches for addressing this problem so interwoven into our economy and society. This article describes economic inequality in the U.S. context as well as social work–oriented responses. It briefly compares the inequality level of the U.S. with that of other countries. It explores the distinctions between poverty and economic inequality and the particular ways in which economic inequality is maintained and grows in the U.S. It also explores the kinds of policy and program initiatives addressing this grand challenge, the barriers to and potential benefits of such ideas, and the roles for social workers and the social work profession in reducing extreme economic inequality in our society.


  • Macro Practice
  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Poverty
  • Social Justice and Human Rights

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