Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
Waitress Julisia Hoin pauses as she mops the floor during a blizzard at an open but empty Waffle House restaurant in Lancaster, Pa., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010.

The United States isn’t the land of opportunity anymore. At least not by the numbers.

Through research, 24/7 Wall St. reported Wednesday that the U.S. has one the highest gaps between the rich and the poor, showing that rising to the top isn’t such an easy thing to do.

Using the Gini index — which shows the gap between a perfect economy's equality, where incomes are the same, and the countries current equality — found the U.S. to be listed fourth on the list. Turkey, Mexico and Chile ranked just ahead of America.

“Despite being one the world’s wealthiest nations with the third highest GDP per capita … the U.S. still had one of the developed world’s largest income gaps,” 24/7 Wall St. reported. “In each of the last two years, labor force growth has been less than 1 percent, as Americans exited the workforce and the population continued to age.”

Is this inequality bringing the United States back to an earlier time? Gary Burtless of Real Clear Markets wrote Wednesday that the rising inequality might be making the U.S. more like it was in the 1920s.

“Based on our best statistics it is almost certain that market income inequality, after shrinking in the four decades through 1970, began to grow again and has now reached a peak last seen in 1928,” Burtless wrote. “However, progressive income taxes and government redistribution are far more important in determining Americans' incomes today than they were in the 1920s.”

And that’s going to have an impact on families, too, Burtless wrote. By ignoring some of the movements to lessen the gap, some might be ignoring families, he wrote.

“To disregard the impact of transfers and progressive taxation on the distribution of income and family well-being is to ignore America's most expensive efforts to lessen the gap between the nation's rich, middle class, and poor,” Burtless wrote.

Still, as the debate of income inequality continues, the United States is a relatively positive nation. A new Gallup poll found that the U.S. is the 19th most positive country in the world. Paraguay, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Ecuador round up the top five, while Syria, Chad, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia bottom out in the list.

“Despite the conflict and unrest that dominates much of the news,” Gallup reported, “people around the world are experiencing a lot of positive emotions.”

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