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
Four Gloomy Futures for Sex Segregation David B. Grusky, Asaf Levanon

Four Gloomy Futures for Sex Segregation

Author: David B. Grusky, Asaf Levanon
Publisher: Westview Press
Date: 01/2007

income and wealth - CPI Affiliates

Jonathan Kelley's picture Jonathan Kelley Director at International Survey Center; Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Reno
University of Nevada
Robert Erikson's picture Robert Erikson Professor, Institute for Social Research
Stockholm University
Julie E. Brines Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Washington
Anthony Giddens's picture Anthony Giddens Life Fellow of King's College; Professor Lord (Emeritus); Director, Center for the Study of Global Governance
London School of Economics and Political Science
Robert H. Topel's picture Robert H. Topel Isidore Brown and Gladys J. Brown Professor in Urban and Labor Economics; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
The University of Chicago

Pages

Income And Wealth - Other Research

Title Author Media
The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity Michael J. Piore and Charles F. Sabel

The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity

Author: Michael J. Piore and Charles F. Sabel
Publisher: Basic Books, Inc.
Date:
The Making of the New English Working Class E.P. Thompson

The Making of the New English Working Class

Author: E.P. Thompson
Publisher: Vintage Books
Date:
Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors Lawrence F. Katz and Murphy Katz

Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors

Author: Lawrence F. Katz and Murphy Katz
Publisher: Quarterly Journal of Economics
Date:
The Social Stratification of Theatre, Dance, and Cinema Attendance Tak Wing Chan and John H. Goldthorpe

The Social Stratification of Theatre, Dance, and Cinema Attendance

Author: Tak Wing Chan and John H. Goldthorpe
Publisher: Routledge
Date:

In current sociological literature the relationship between social inequality and patterns of cultural taste and consumption is the subject of a large and complex debate. In this paper the primary aim is to examine, in the light of empirical results from a research project in which the authors are presently engaged, three main, and rival, positions that have been taken up in this debate, here labelled as the ‘homology', the ‘individualization' and the ‘omnivore–univore' arguments. Elsewhere, we have concentrated on musical consumption in England, and find evidence that is broadly supportive of the omnivore–univore argument. Here we ask whether such findings are confirmed in the case of theatre, dance and cinema attendance. A secondary aim of the paper is to bring to the attention of practitioners in the field of cultural policy and administration the need to address the issues that arise through the use of more powerful methods of data analysis than those often applied in the past. We explain how indicators of theatre, dance and cinema attendance derived from the Arts in England survey of 2001 can be subject to analysis so as to reveal two distinctive patterns of attendance and, in turn, two distinctive types of consumer—who can, it turns out, be regarded as omnivores and univores, even if with some qualification. The former have relatively high rates of attendance at all kinds of the events covered, including musicals and pantomimes as well as plays and ballet, while the latter tend to be cinema-goers only, that is, non-consumers of theatre and dance. A range of measures of social inequality are then introduced into the authors' analyses, including separate measures of social class and social status and also of educational level and income, and it is further shown that, again in conformity with the omnivore–univore argument, these two types of consumer are socially stratified. Omnivores are of generally higher social status than univores and also have usually higher levels of education and higher income than do univores (the latter finding marking the main difference with musical consumption, which was unaffected by income once other stratification variables were controlled). In sum, our results for theatre, dance and cinema attendance lend, overall, further support to the omnivore–univore argument as against its rivals, but also indicate that different aspects of social inequality impact on different forms of cultural consumption in varying degrees and probably through largely separate processes.

What Do Unions Do Freeman, Richard B. and James L. Medoff

What Do Unions Do

Author: Freeman, Richard B. and James L. Medoff
Publisher: Basic Books
Date:

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