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U.S. FY 2009 Annual Income Distribution by Percentiles

January 6, 2011

I like that title… its got percentiles, income distributions… isn’t it sexy? Well anyways here is the graph.

Oh my! That looks a bit skewed huh? I guess its just all the inequality in contemporary American society.

That’s a pretty sharp Lorentz curve too. If income were perfectly evenly distributed across the population that would be a 45 degree angled line. The further away the Lorentz curve is from straight, the less equal society is in terms of income inequality. If you’re interested in what income brackets account for each percentile I’ve just posted a little on that here. If you’d like to hear about U.S. income and taxation  there is a nice post on the subject of who pays how much in taxes here.

I guess the growing wealth divide is not pretty in graphical form. Who’d have thought skewed proportions would be so ugly.

Also: For another interesting chart… check out this blog post on changes in income, for each income percentile, by President. I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but the post references a blogger from the NY Times.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. tom byrne permalink
    July 28, 2011 1:54 pm

    using population by itself doesnt remove infants cchildren etc. more informative might be using income recipients- maybe irs filiers or other tweakers thanks/ tom

    • July 30, 2011 10:39 am

      That is correct, however the method I used to produce this graph is exactly what you suggested. I used government reported income-tax receipts to construct this chart. Therefore what the chart actually shows is income across the working population (not the general population). What this means is that the income disparity shown in this chart is actually worse, because it doesn’t account for the truly destitute who file no income tax at all.

      • John permalink
        August 6, 2011 10:41 am

        im interested in seeing another chart of this data for 1970. if im correct, it isn’t going to look much different from the bottom 80%. people keep complaining about income being consolidated at the top, but they dont understand where’s its coming from. it doesn’t appear to me that much of it is coming from the bottom 60%, that is, the bottom 60%’s share of the income hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years, but the top 1%’s has. why? that share of income that the top 1% is taking is coming almost wholly from other people in the top 20%, not from people in the bottom 80%. the reason this is important is that it means that poor and (truly) middle class people have just as much opportunity to move up the ladder as the did 40 years ago, not less. (and that’s if you measure opportunity by the share of the total income they get, which isn’t even a good measure.) the point is that when you keep hearing about less opportunity for people in the bottom 80%, that really simply isn’t true, and their shares of the total wealth and income have changed very little over the last 30 to 40 years. if you can find a graph from 1980, you’re just not going to see the bottom 80% taking a substantially larger share of the income. we’ve always had substantial inequality, but it hasn’t impeded poor people’s ability to move up. your graph fails to show that the bottom 40% 30 years ago aren’t the same as the bottom 40% now. we have alot of economic mobility in america.

      • August 7, 2011 9:13 am

        Your argument is interesting, and its one I haven’t heard before. I will try to look for the some numbers and get back to you. There is an economist, T. Piketty, who has done work on this exact topic (it was actually his seminal paper), and his thesis contradicts what you are saying. Additionally, broad statistics which track inequality across all incomes indicated that the “skew” has gotten worse. So on first glance I would say your statement is probably incorrect.

        It seems like your statement is based mainly on a gut feeling, so I’m interested to hear if you have any data on this. However, not having seen the distribution myself I’ll wait to provide correction. When I have time I’ll do a brief post on this, because either way I think the data would be good for people to see.

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