From my post yesterday on the Enterprise Blog:
The Occupy Wall Street protest has returned national attention to the topic of income inequality; see recent commentary from bloggers Megan McArdle here
and James Pethokoukis here
. Both highlight empirical evidence that challenges the narrative that income inequality has gotten worse over time.
Most of the discussion on income inequality focuses on the relative differences over time between low-income and high-income American households, but it’s also instructive to analyze the demographic differences among income groups at a given point in time to answer the question: How are high-income households different from low-income households? Recently released data from the Census Bureau (available here
, and here
) for American households by income quintiles in 2010 allows for such a comparison: see the chart above (click to enlarge).
Bottom Line: American households in the top income quintile have almost five times more family members working on average than the lowest quintile, and individuals in higher-income households are far more likely than lower-income households to be well-educated, married, and working full-time in their prime earning years. In contrast, individuals in low-income households are far more likely to be less-educated, working part-time, either very young or very old, and living in single-parent households.