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Sunday, November 20, 2011


I generated this graph a while back, but evidently never posted it.  It shows the spread between mean and median income.  If the mean is greater then the median, income is skewed to the top half of the population.  Greater spread means greater skew.  It's that simple.

Somewhere along the line, I had a computer crash and lost the data file this graph came from.  So - I don't know what dollar basis this chart uses.

Here, below, is a more extensive graph.  Same story, but different numbers.  Data is from the Census Bureau, Table 696.  Click the top link at this Google search and it will download the data file.  I got this from an earlier version, in constant 2008 dollars.  Current download version is in constant 2009 dollars.

Top Line in the graph is mean income, second line is median income, bottom line is the difference.  Each line is color coded by President's party: Rethugs in Red, Demos in Blue.  For the difference line, Rethugs are in yellow, Demos in purple.

There was not a lot of disparity growth through the 50's.  It stepped up every decade, until the most recent.  Well, the rich are going to get richer.  I think I read that somewhere.  Except for the Shrub administration.  That was close to dead flat for everyone, so the difference didn't even change.

Note, though, that the really big change comes from Reagan, and especially Bush 1.  The big jump from 92-93 happened because mean incomes recovered a year before median incomes did.  Disparity grew through the Clinton years, but at a slower pace.  Then Shrub happened, and it was the doldrums, or worse, for everyone.  A decade of zero wealth generation.

No wonder conservatives love him.


Jerry Critter said...

Looking at this data, one could argue that the Bush 1 tax increase increased the wealth inequality while the Bush 2 tax cuts did not. Thus, republicans should be in favor of tax increases.

The Arthurian said...

"If the mean is greater then the median, income is skewed to the top half of the population. Greater spread means greater skew. It's that simple."

Wonderful clarity!

Steve Roth said...

Good stuff. Would you add a graph to this post of the difference line only, y axis appropriately scaled so we can see when the big median/mean divergences happened? Thanks.