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
Income Inequality and Income Segregation Sean F. Reardon, Kendra Bischoff

Income Inequality and Income Segregation

Author: Sean F. Reardon, Kendra Bischoff
Publisher:
Date: 07/2010

Both income inequality and income segregation in the United States grew substantially from 1970 to 2000. Using data from the 100 largest metropolitan areas, we investigate whether and how income inequality affects patterns of income segregation along three dimensions—the spatial concentration of poverty and affluence; race-specific patterns of income segregation; and the geographic scale of income segregation. We find a robust relationship between income inequality and income segregation, an effect that is larger for black families than for white families. In addition, income inequality affects income segregation primarily through its effect on the large-scale spatial concentration of affluence, rather than by affecting the spatial concentration of poverty or by altering small-scale patterns of income segregation.

Measuring What Employers Do about Entry Wages over the Business Cycle: A New Approach Pedro S. Martins, Gary Solon, Jonathan P. Thomas

Measuring What Employers Do about Entry Wages over the Business Cycle: A New Approach

Author: Pedro S. Martins, Gary Solon, Jonathan P. Thomas
Publisher: American Economic Association
Date: 02/2010

Rigidity in real hiring wages plays a crucial role in some recent macroeconomic models. But are hiring wages really so noncyclical? We propose using employer/employee longitudinal data to track the cyclical variation in the wages paid to workers newly hired into specific entry jobs. Illustrating the methodology with 1982-2008 data from the Portuguese census of employers, we find real entry wages were about 1.8 percent higher when the unemployment rate was 1 percentage point lower. Like most recent evidence on other aspects of wage cyclicality, our results suggest that the cyclical elasticity of wages is similar to that of employment.

How Class Works: Objective and Subjective Aspects of Class since the 1970s Michael Hout

How Class Works: Objective and Subjective Aspects of Class since the 1970s

Author: Michael Hout
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 07/2008
Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty? Shelley J. Correll, Stephen Benard, In Paik

Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty?

Author: Shelley J. Correll, Stephen Benard, In Paik
Publisher: American Journal of Sociology
Date: 03/2007
Social Class and Earnings Inequality Kim A. Weeden, Young-Mi Kim, Matthew Di Carlo, David B. Grusky

Social Class and Earnings Inequality

Author: Kim A. Weeden, Young-Mi Kim, Matthew Di Carlo, David B. Grusky
Publisher: American Behavioral Scientist
Date: 01/2007

income and wealth - CPI Affiliates

Donald J. Treiman's picture Donald J. Treiman Distinguished Professor of Sociology Emeritus; Research Professor, UCLA Faculty Associate, California Center for Population Research
University of California , Los Angeles
Thomas A. DiPrete's picture Thomas A. DiPrete Giddings Professor of Sociology; Co-Director, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Columbia University
Lillian Rubin's picture Lillian Rubin Public Intellectual
Donald Tomaskovic-Devey's picture Donald Tomaskovic-Devey Professor of Sociology; Research Analyst, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Research, Information and Planning
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Tim Biblarz's picture Tim Biblarz Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies
University of Southern California

Pages

Income And Wealth - Other Research

Title Author Media
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Date:

Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job - any job - can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity - a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival.

The Constant Flux: A Study of Class Mobility in Industrial Societies Erikson, Robert and John H. Goldthrope

The Constant Flux: A Study of Class Mobility in Industrial Societies

Author: Erikson, Robert and John H. Goldthrope
Publisher: Clarendon Press
Date:
A Treatise on the Family Gary S. Becker

A Treatise on the Family

Author: Gary S. Becker
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Date:
Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream Barbara Ehrenreich

Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Date:
The High-Pressure U.S. Labor Market of the 1990s Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger

The High-Pressure U.S. Labor Market of the 1990s

Author: Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger
Publisher: Princeton University
Date:

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