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A Look At The Bottom One Percent

“At a time when there’s a spotlight on America’s richest 1%, a look at the country’s 310 Indian reservations–where many of America’s poorest 1% live–can be more enlightening.”

Indian reservations are home to some of the nation’s poorest people. According to John Koppisch, a senior editor at Forbes Magazine, explanations often point to “alcoholism, corruption or school drop-out rates… But these are just symptoms.Prosperity is built on property rights.” Reservations often have weak property rights or none at all.

In his latest article, “Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1%,” Koppisch reports that most reservation land is communally owned, and without clear title, Indians cannot establish credit or borrow to start businesses or improve their homes. Without property rights, markets cannot operate and people cannot build wealth.

Koppisch spent a week at PERC this summer as a Media Fellow where he worked with PERC’s Terry Anderson and Nick Parker, two of the nation’s top scholars on American Indian economies.

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