Home > income redistribution > USA: The Great Prosperity / The Great Regression : 5 charts

USA: The Great Prosperity / The Great Regression : 5 charts

from David Ruccio

The USA Charts
The Great Prosperity 1947– 79 / The Great Regression 1980 to now
Income gains by fifths 1947– 979
Income gains by fifths 1980 – now
Wealth redistribution
Household spending 1975 to now 


  1. September 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Looks like one can draw the vertical line earlier, say ca 1971 for example…

  2. September 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    This is consistent with the proposition that land rent absorbs much of the gains from economic growth. The high inflation of the 1970s caused real estate prices (i.e. land values) to escalate, and wages to stagnate, and the land-value based derivatives of the ozo years (2000-2009) pushed wealth further into the land-value bubble.

  3. Pandora
    September 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    *sigh* …looks like I’m part of the “lost generation”….

  4. Strategist
    September 8, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Looks like one can draw the vertical line earlier, say ca 1971 for example…

    David Harvey (and probably most) would date the end of the post-war ‘golden era’ to the 1971/1973 crises and the response to that.

    • Peter
      July 15, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Is it a coincidence that Nixon ended the gold standard in ’71 ?

  5. September 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    @Strategist Further on that note, it’s worth checking out Leigh Harkness’s website and his Optimum Exchange Rate System. Se e.g.

  6. September 9, 2011 at 2:19 am


    You may find the charts and explanation in the following link more relevant to the US recession. I identify 1973 as the turning point.


  7. September 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Looks to me like the vertical line is at 1979 and appropriately so. GDP per capita and median household income break down there as well. Excellent display. (One might include the explosion of government debt at this time, too, or slightly later. GDP growth. The Reagan regression?)

  8. October 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Piketty and Saez have interesting data also for 1920-1947. Guess what peaked in 1929.

  9. February 6, 2012 at 1:50 am

    I wish I had found that chart when I was trying to explain the relation between becoming slaves to stuff and slaves to employers.

    • September 19, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      I believe part of this is due to over time….companies didn’t see workers as a valued asset..but rather as a necessary evil…so if someone would do the same job cheaper…then why not…companies demand allegiance from their employees..but do not give the same allegiance in return.

  10. January 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    >Pay rose with productivity.
    >And then didn’t.

    It’s almost like something was introduced in the early 1980s that increased productivity without the need for additional human labor.

    Whatever could it be?

  11. January 23, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Maybe, perhaps, the top 10%ers had tremendous gains in Net Interest Income (NII) from the sale of the increased production. Please does anyone have a chart showing the (NII)
    from financing the apx. residential and commercial building sector. Maybe, $35 TRILLION, at an average rate of 5% ( a constant $1.75 trillion per year every year since the 70’s),since
    each year the new production will at least replace the principal paid.
    We have legislated this entitlement to the Private For Profit Banks, so please, do not blame them for doing a great job-“making profits”.

  12. gaurang.morjaria@gmail.com
    October 8, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Great set of charts… I wonder if UK that follows an economic model similar to US, would mirror the above trends -thanks again

  13. Gerald Holtham
    January 12, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    The long post-WW2 boom wobbled in 1971 but ended in 1974. Growth was slower after that in most developed countries. The big swing in income distribution occurred later shortly after 1979 when the wage share peaked and the profit share began a long rise.. The trends are confused a bit by cyclical recessions. You need two lines not one for two big changes: one from faster to slower growth, two from a stable or rising wage share to a declining wage share.. The UK is similar though the wage stagnation is not as marked and started later.
    The slowdown was not caused by abandoning the gold exchange standard and will not be reversed by the invention of crypto currencies.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.