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U. S. family income mobility and inequality, 1994 to 2004


  • Katharine Bradbury
  • Jane Katz
  • Jessamyn Fleming
  • Charu Gupta


This interactive graphic illustrates the mobility of U.S. families across income classes during the decade. The main finding is that family income mobility is limited: After sorting families observed in both 1994 and 2004 from poorest to richest across five income classes in each year, the data show that 40 percent of U.S. families were in the same income class in 2004 as in 1994 and only 22 percent moved up or down by more than one class. Those who start in the poorest or richest classes are the least likely to move: Over half of these families are in the same class in 2004 as in 1994. Focusing next on income changes for individual families (rather than movements across income classes), the data indicate that families who began in lower income classes saw their incomes rise by larger percentages but still ended up poorer, on average, than those who began in higher classes. In addition, the graphic breaks out the patterns of mobility, inequality, and income changes by race.

Suggested Citation

  • Katharine Bradbury & Jane Katz & Jessamyn Fleming & Charu Gupta, 2008. "U. S. family income mobility and inequality, 1994 to 2004," Interactive Maps and Charts, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbmc:y:2008:x:1

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