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Dimensions of inequality: facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth

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  • Javier Díaz-Giménez
  • Vincenzo Quadrini
  • José-Víctor Ríos-Rull

Abstract

This article describes some facts about financial inequality in the United States that a good theory of inequality must be able to explain. These include the facts that labor earnings, income, and wealth are all unequally distributed among U.S. households, but the distributions are significantly different. Wealth is much more concentrated than the other two. Wealth is positively correlated with earnings and income, but not strongly. The movement of households up and down the economic scale is greater when measured by income than by earnings or wealth. Differences across the three variables remain when the data are disaggregated by age, employment status, educational level, and marital status of the heads of U.S. households. Each of these classifications also has significant differences across households. All the facts are based on data taken from the 1992 Survey of Consumer Finances and the 1984–85 and 1989–90 Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (1997)
Issue (Month): Spr ()
Pages: 3-21

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1997:i:spr:p:3-21:n:v.21no.2

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Related research

Keywords: Income distribution ; Wealth;

References

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  1. Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Life-Cycle Economies and Aggregate Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 465-89, July.
  2. John C. Weicher, 1995. "Changes in the distribution of wealth: increasing inequality?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 5-23.
  3. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1992. "Aggregate Consumption and Saving in the Postwar United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 585-97, November.
  4. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1995. "Unemployment spells and income distribution dynamics," Working Papers 95-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  5. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Family finances in the U.S.: recent evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-24.
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  1. Quantitative Macroeconomics and Real Business Cycles (QM&RBC)

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