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Measuring the Trends in Inequality of Individuals and Families: Income and Consumption

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Listed:
  • Jonathan D. Fisher
  • David S. Johnson
  • Timothy M. Smeeding

Abstract

We present evidence on the level of and trend in inequality from 1985-2010 in the United States, using disposable income and consumption for a sample of individuals from the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey. Differing from the findings in other recent research, we find that the trends in income and consumption inequality are broadly similar between 1985 and 2006, but diverge during the Great Recession with consumption inequality decreasing and income inequality increasing. Given the differences in the trends in inequality in the last four years, using both income and consumption provides useful information.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan D. Fisher & David S. Johnson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2013. "Measuring the Trends in Inequality of Individuals and Families: Income and Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 184-188, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:184-88
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.184
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jenkins, Stephen P. & Burkhauser, Richard V. & Feng, Shuaizhang & Larrimore, Jeff, 2009. "Measuring inequality using censored data: a multiple imputation approach," ISER Working Paper Series 2009-04, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Stephen P. Jenkins & Richard V. Burkhauser & Shuaizhang Feng & Jeff Larrimore, 2011. "Measuring inequality using censored data: a multiple‐imputation approach to estimation and inference," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 174(1), pages 63-81, January.
    3. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    4. Jonathan Fisher & David S. Johnson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2015. "Inequality of Income and Consumption in the U.S.: Measuring the Trends in Inequality from 1984 to 2011 for the Same Individuals," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(4), pages 630-650, December.
    5. repec:eme:rleczz:s0147-9121(2011)0000032004 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:157-179 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Chris Belfield & Richard Blundell & Jonathan Cribb & Andrew Hood & Robert Joyce, 2017. "Two Decades of Income Inequality in Britain: The Role of Wages, Household Earnings and Redistribution," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 157-179, April.
    3. Léo Czajka, 2017. "Income Inequality in Côte d'Ivoire: 1985-2014," Working Papers 201708, World Inequality Lab.
    4. Christoph Lakner & Branko Milanovic, 2016. "Global Income Distribution: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the Great Recession," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 30(2), pages 203-232.
    5. repec:gam:jscscx:v:6:y:2017:i:4:p:147-:d:121568 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella & Gonzalo Paz Pardo, 2016. "The Implications of Richer Earnings Dynamics for Consumption and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 21917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Engel, Mimi & Claessens, Amy & Watts, Tyler & Stone, Susan, 2016. "Socioeconomic inequality at school entry: A cross-cohort comparison of families and schools," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 227-232.
    8. Christoph Lakner & Branko Milanovic, 2015. "La distribución global del ingreso. De la caída del muro de Berlín a la gran recesión," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 17(32), pages 71-128, January-J.
    9. J. W. Mason, 2018. "Income Distribution, Household Debt, and Aggregate Demand: A Critical Assessment," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_901, Levy Economics Institute.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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