Income and Wealth Inequality

  • Nicholas Bloom
  • Raj Chetty
  • Emmanuel Saez

Leaders: Nicholas Bloom, Raj Chetty, Emmanuel Saez

The CPI is home to some of the country’s most influential analyses of the income and wealth distribution. The purpose of the Income and Wealth RG is to monitor the ongoing takeoff in income inequality, to better understand its sources, and to analyze its implications for labor market performance, educational attainment, mobility, and more. The following is a sampling of the CPI’s research projects within this area.

Trends in income and wealth inequality: What are the key trends in U.S. income and wealth inequality? The U.S. increasingly looks to Emmanuel Saez and his research team for the latest data on U.S. economic inequality.

Distributional National Accounts: In an ambitious infrastructural project, Emmanuel Saez and his team are building a “Distributional National Accounts” based on tax returns, a data set that will eliminate the current gap between (a) national accounts data based on economic aggregates and (b) inequality analysis that uses micro-level tax data to examine the distribution of income but is not consistent with national aggregates. This new data set will in turn make it possible to evaluate the extent to which economic growth, which has long been represented as a preferred poverty-reduction approach, is indeed delivering on that objective.

The rise of between-firm inequality: How much of the rise in earnings inequality can be attributed to increasing between-firm dispersion in the average wages they pay? This question can be addressed by constructing a matched employer-employee data set for the United States using administrative records.

Rent and inequality: It is increasingly fashionable to argue that “rent” accounts for much of the takeoff in income inequality. The Current Population Survey can be used to assess whether this claim is on the mark. 

Income And Wealth - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Family, the Lifecourse, and the Great Recession S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, Christopher Wimer

Family, the Lifecourse, and the Great Recession

Author: S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, Christopher Wimer
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The family is an important setting within which the Great Recession can exert its influence. Although the downturn directly affected many workers by reducing their earnings or forcing them into unemployment, it affected others indirectly by changing their living arrangements or family life. Further, the ways in which families are formed or broken up may be affected by the Great Recession, as it can alter the perceived costs and benefits of various family-relevant behaviors. Amid the turmoil and economic upheaval in the wider economy, individuals and families go about their lives, deciding to get married, suffering through breakups and divorces, planning families, and sorting out their living arrangements. The recession could have major effects on all of these family processes.

Income, Wealth and Debt and the Great Recession Timothy Smeeding

Income, Wealth and Debt and the Great Recession

Author: Timothy Smeeding
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The Great Depression is often cast as the beginning of the end for the late Gilded Age. Because it brought on the institutional reforms of the New Deal, it led to dramatic reductions in income inequality and set the stage for a long period of comparatively low inequality. The purpose of this recession brief is to ask whether the Great Recession, like the Great Depression, is likewise shaping up as a compressive event that will reverse some of the run-up in inequality of the so-called New Gilded Age. This question can be taken on by examining recent and long-term trends in wealth inequality, income inequality, median incomes, and debt.

The Labor Force and the Great Recession Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth

The Labor Force and the Great Recession

Author: Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The Great Recession and the slow recovery since have been the longest economic slump in seventy years. It affected vulnerable populations more than others. In this brief, our aim is to put this disaster into historical context, looking first at the overall state of the labor market and then at how the economic harm has been distributed across the population by gender, level of education, and race and ethnicity.

Consumption and the Great Recession Luigi Pistaferri, Ivaylo Petev

Consumption and the Great Recession

Author: Luigi Pistaferri, Ivaylo Petev
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The particular trauma of severe downturns is that declining consumer spending, itself a reaction to the economy's contraction, also undermines the prospects for recovery. Consumption is, in other words, a fundamental determinant of business cycles - a kind of litmus test of economic health. But it's not just an important determinant of future economic performance. We also look to consumption as an omnibus measure of the set of socioeconomic conditions that underlie consumer behavior, such as job opportunities, price fluctuations, access to credit, and financial security. In this recession brief, we offer an interpretation of recent consumption data in order to determine the extent of the economic damage and its unequal distribution across the American populace.

Three Worlds of Inequality Kim A. Weeden , David B. Grusky

Three Worlds of Inequality

Author: Kim A. Weeden , David B. Grusky
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Date: 05/2012

Recent inequality scholarship fixates on trends in the amount of inequality and largely ignores trends in the form of inequality. The authors describe three ideal-typical inequality regimes (big-class, microclass, and gradational) and identify the mechanisms driving a shift toward or away from each of them. Using GSS and CPS data on 39 measures of life chances, attitudes, and behaviors, the authors find that big-class inequality is in decline whereas microclass inequality has remained stable. Moreover, big classes are simplifying into largely economic aggregates, whereas microclasses remain more complicated moral configurations that cannot be understood in terms of economic standing.

 

income and wealth - CPI Affiliates

William T. Bielby Professor of Sociology
University of Illinois-Chicago
Paul Oyer's picture Paul Oyer Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics; Director, Big Data, Strategic Decisions: Analysis to Action Co-Director, Harnessing AI for Breakthrough Innovation and Strategic Impact Co-Director, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Director, Stanford Latino Entre
Stanford University
John Roemer's picture John Roemer Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Professor of Political Sciences and Economics; Fellow, Econometric Society
Yale University
Xueguang Zhou's picture Xueguang Zhou Professor and Chair of Sociology; Kwoh-Ting Li Professor in Economic Development and FSI Senior Fellow
Stanford University
John Van Reenen's picture John Van Reenen Professor of Applied Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pages

Income And Wealth - Other Research

Title Author Media
Wealth Concentration in a Developing Economy: Paris and France, 1807-1994 Piketty, Thomas, Gilles Postel-Vinay, Jean Laurent Rosenthal

Wealth Concentration in a Developing Economy: Paris and France, 1807-1994

Author: Piketty, Thomas, Gilles Postel-Vinay, Jean Laurent Rosenthal
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 03/2006
Positional Externalities Cause Large and Preventable Welfare Losses Frank, Robert H.

Positional Externalities Cause Large and Preventable Welfare Losses

Author: Frank, Robert H.
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 01/2005
Flexible Firms and Labor Market Segmentation: Effects of Workplace Restructuring on Jobs and Workers Arne. L. Kalleberg

Flexible Firms and Labor Market Segmentation: Effects of Workplace Restructuring on Jobs and Workers

Author: Arne. L. Kalleberg
Publisher: Work and Occupations
Date: 05/2003
Skill-Biased Technological Change and Wage Inequality: Evidence from a Plant Retooling Roberto M. Fernandez

Skill-Biased Technological Change and Wage Inequality: Evidence from a Plant Retooling

Author: Roberto M. Fernandez
Publisher: American Journal of Sociology
Date: 02/2001
From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women’s Paid Labor Dora L. Costa

From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women’s Paid Labor

Author: Dora L. Costa
Publisher: Journal of Economic Perspectives
Date: 03/2000

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