How You, I and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All Wrong


Informative Stats

Unveiling the real story behind the richest of the rich

Derek Thompson – The Atlantic

For years, I’ve been making the same embarrassing mistake about U.S. economic inequality. Sorry.

I’ve written, over and over, that the most important divide in our wealth disparity was between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. For example, when I compared the evolution in investment income since the late 1970s, I often imagined a graph like this from the Economic Policy Institute, showing the 1 percent flying away from the rest of the country.

It turns out that that graph is somewhat misleading. It makes it look like the 1 percent is a group of similar households accelerating from the rest of the economy, holding hands, in unison. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A few weeks ago, I shared this graph (from the World Top Incomes Database) showing how the top…

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