Home > Decline of the USA, income inequality, income redistribution > Two American epochs: Growing Together 1947-1979 and Growing Apart 1979-2012 (charts)

Two American epochs: Growing Together 1947-1979 and Growing Apart 1979-2012 (charts)

from David Ruccio



Colin Gordon, of the Telltale Chart, has combined Census data (reporting average family income by income percentiles) with the top incomes estimates of Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez and come up with the following conclusion:

the big picture is at once familiar and depressing.  Over the long postwar era (1947-2012), we see steady and shared income growth running into the 1970s—and then suddenly fanning out as the top incomes (in green) take off. Over that long half-century, incomes (in real, inflation adjusted 2012 dollars) at the 20th percentile do not quite double; those for the top .01 percent of earners grow almost tenfold.

The pattern comes into even starker relief if we look at the 1947-1979 and 1979-2012 eras separately. Across the former, a generation of broadly shared prosperity, gains are actually strongest at the bottom of the income spectrum.  Across the latter, the lowest 40 percent see net losses, the median treads water

  1. Herb Wiseman
    October 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    If you add in the growth in government debt and superimpose that chart over these, I bet that you will find similar curves since most of government debt is due to interest on original relatively modest borrowings. The myth in our society is that the poor (social spending) are responsible for the debts of government (especially the Republicans in the US) and are responsible for a transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor by governments but these charts in conjunction with graphs of the growth of debt show that the opposite is true. Governments are actually transferring wealth to the rich from the rest of us. Banksters rule.

    Add in the values of efficiency and lack of empathy for others by the rich (as a group) followers of Ayn Rand and we will begin to understand some of the social and psychological factors that may be at play.

  2. Podargus
    October 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Government debt? What part of the concept of a sovereign fiat currency do you not understand?

    • Herb Wiseman
      January 15, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      I do not understand where Podargus is coming from in this comment. The implication is that somehow I am deficient in understanding. I would love to know how I am deficient in understanding something but his comment seems like a sine qua non.

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