Opinion – USA – Chartbook of Economic Inequality – Max Roser

Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropo...

Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropolitan areas of the United States. Mortality is correlated with both income and inequality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oxford researcher, Max Roser, presents stunningly clear graphical data on trends in inequality. Today, I’m focusing on the US where the charts present powerful evidence of increasing US inequality.

Source: USA – Chartbook of Economic Inequality

The main highlights include:

  1. Top decile of earnings has risen from 150 per cent of median in 1950 to 244 per cent in 2012.
  2. Gini coefficient for gross income now 7 percentage points higher than in 1980.
  3. From 1929 to 1945 overall inequality fell for a sustained period
  4. Official poverty measure fell from 1948 to 1970s, since then cyclical variation about constant level.
  5. Top gross income shares fell from 1928 to the 1970s; since mid-1970s have more than doubled.
  6. Wealth shares generally decreased till 1982 but have not followed the upward trend in top incomes.

The data for above website have been compiled by Anthony B Atkinson and Salvatore Morelli and are published as Atkinson and Morelli (2014). The online version of the Chartbook and the online data visualisations have been designed and constructed by Max Roser. The authors acknowledge support from the following institutions: Programme for Economic Modelling · Institute for New Economic Thinking – Oxford · Oxford Martin School

The authors explain their measures of income inequality.

It is interesting to reflect on the implications. Most people would cite the loss of traditional jobs, with man’s output increasingly being replaced by machines and jobs being offshored to low cost countries. BUT this needs to be considered against recent research from the IMF that better educational attainment and greater investment in R&D is significant in US states achieving higher Total Factor Productivity.

Of course, the other correlation is with President Obama’s period in office. Obama has failed to look after the interests of the working and middle classes effectively.





Income Distribution and Poverty – OECD

English: The logo of the Organisation for Econ...

English: The logo of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an excellent source of latest research data on Income Distribution and Poverty, in both the developed and developing World, published by the OECD. It’s a STRONGLY RECOMMENDED READ, in my view. Check it out!

via Social and welfare issues – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

For me, it is striking, how since the financial crash of 2008, that inequality has increased on such a massive scale. The top 1%, the super-rich, have rebounded strongly and their wealth and incomes have increased enormously. Meanwhile, for the majority, the “great-unwashed”, things have been increasingly hard.

Of course, for the the lives of ordinary citizens of both the middle and lower classes, matters have been seriously aggravated by austerity policies followed in Washington, London and Berlin.

Any thoughts?


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