Exploring Income Inequality, Part 5: The Concentration of Income and Wealth

December 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Yesterday’s post illustrated the magnitude of the income gap.  Today, we’ll take a closer look at the distribution of income and wealth, focusing especially on the share accruing to the top 1 percent.

As the slideshow below shows, the share of the nation’s before-tax income going to the richest 1 percent of households has been rising since the late 1970s and in the past decade has climbed to levels last seen in the 1920s.  Wealth is even more concentrated.

The slideshow is based on research from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, who examine IRS data on the highest-income taxpayers, and from economist Edward Wolff, who analyzes trends in wealth using data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance.  (See our guide for more information on these data sources and historical trends.)

While the recent recession caused a sharp drop in the share of income and wealth in the top 1 percent, the surge in corporate profits and the recovery of the stock market since 2009 suggest that incomes at the top will recover quickly in the coming years, as they did following the dot-com collapse of the early 2000s.

Thank you for tuning into the series; we’ll combine all of the slides into a single slideshow for easier viewing and post it on the CBPP website (cbpp.org).  Stay tuned for future analyses.

Print Friendly

More About Hannah Shaw

Hannah Shaw

Hannah Shaw joined the Center in August of 2008. Her work as a research associate centers on income inequality, unemployment insurance, and economic analysis of other federal budget and policy issues.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at CBPP.org

Your Comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation about important policy issues. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the CBPP and do not constitute official endorsement by CBPP. Please note that comments will be approved during the Center's business hours. If you have questions, please contact communications@cbpp.org.

nine − 2 =

 characters available