Political  Calculations

How is income inequality changing over time?

To find out, we've updated our chart showing the trends we find for U.S. individuals, families and households according to their Gini Coefficient as recorded by the U.S. Census since 1994 in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement it provides for its Current Population Survey, where a value of 0 indicates perfect equality (everyone has the same income) and a value of 1 indicates perfect inequality (one person has all the income, while everyone else has none).

Why only from 1994? That's because the Census only began publishing its data online in an easy to access electronic format after 1993 (note the left hand margin here). The Census has published its older data online, but in the form of scanned documents that require a lot of manual effort to extract the data, which is also not as detailed as the newer versions. U.S. Income Inequality for Individuals, Families and Households, 1994 to 2011

Besides, it's not like the data since 1994 doesn't show the key trends for income inequality in the United States! Going to our chart, here is what we find:

  • The level of income inequality for individuals is essentially unchanged over time, holding flat within a fairly narrow range.
  • Once we begin combining individuals into families, we see a rising trend in income inequality over time.
  • Likewise, once we combine individuals into households, we also see a rising trend in income inequality over time.

Political Calculations

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