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Income Inequality, Mobility, and Turnover at the Top in the US, 1987-2010

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  • Gerald Auten
  • Geoffrey Gee
  • Nicholas Turner

Abstract

While cross-sectional data show increasing income inequality in the United States, it is also important to examine how incomes change over time. Using income tax data, this paper provides new evidence on long-term and intergenerational mobility, and persistence at the top of the income distribution. Half of those aged 35-40 in the top or bottom quintile in 1987 remain there in 2007; the others have moved up or down. While 30 percent of dependents aged 15-18 from bottom quintile households are themselves in the bottom quintile after 20 years, most have moved up. Persistence is lower in the highest income groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerald Auten & Geoffrey Gee & Nicholas Turner, 2013. "Income Inequality, Mobility, and Turnover at the Top in the US, 1987-2010," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 168-172, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:168-72
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.168
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Auten, Gerald & Gee, Geoffrey, 2009. "Income Mobility in the United States: New Evidence From Income Tax Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 62(2), pages 301-328, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Markus Jäntti & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2013. "Income Mobility," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 607, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Fatih Guvenen & Greg Kaplan & Jae Song, 2014. "How Risky Are Recessions for Top Earners?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 148-153, May.
    3. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson & Jørgen Modalsli, 2013. "The ins and outs of top income mobility," Discussion Papers 762, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    4. Stephen P. Jenkins & Philippe Van Kerm, 2016. "Assessing Individual Income Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 679-703, October.
    5. Larrimore, Jeff & Mortenson, Jacob & Splinter, David, 2015. "Income and Earnings Mobility in U.S. Tax Data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Jean-Brieux Delbos, 2016. "Once in the Elite, Always in the Elite? Changing Wealth in a Changing City (Paris, France, 1845-1859)," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 126(5), pages 683-719.
    7. Gerald Auten & Geofrey Gee & Nicholas Turner, 2013. "New Perspectives on Income Mobility and Inequality," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 66(4), pages 893-912, December.
    8. Salvatore Morelli & Timothy Smeeding & Jeffrey Thompson, 2014. "Post-1970 Trends in Within-Country Inequality and Poverty: Rich and Middle Income Countries," CSEF Working Papers 356, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    9. Jeff Larrimore & Richard V. Burkhauser & Gerald Auten & Philip Armour, 2016. "Recent Trends in U.S. Top Income Shares in Tax Record Data Using More Comprehensive Measures of Income Including Accrued Capital Gains," NBER Working Papers 23007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Cano Liliana, 2015. "Income Mobility in Ecuador: New Evidence from Individual Income Tax Returns," WIDER Working Paper Series 040, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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