On the Evolution of Income Inequality in the United States

FRB Richmond Economic Quarterly, Vol. 94, No. 2, Spring 2008, pp. 97-120

24 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2012

See all articles by Kevin A. Bryan

Kevin A. Bryan

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Leonardo Martinez

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - IMF Institute

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

This article discusses the evolution of income inequality in the United States. We focus mainly on the evolution of inequality since the 1960s because more data are available for this period than for earlier periods. We document that income inequality rose in the United States during the period under study. Furthermore, our article documents periods characterized by a decline in real income for lower income groups. We show that the increase in inequality is concentrated among individuals with higher income and we explain that welfare inequality may have increased less than income inequality (and, in fact, may actually have decreased). In addition, this article summarizes the findings of studies on inequality trends between the 1820s and the 1960s. We show that the recent period of increasing inequality followed a period of decreasing inequality since World War I, which in turn followed a period of increasing inequality in the 19th century.

Suggested Citation

Bryan, Kevin A. and Martinez, Leonardo, On the Evolution of Income Inequality in the United States (2008). FRB Richmond Economic Quarterly, Vol. 94, No. 2, Spring 2008, pp. 97-120, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2187901

Kevin A. Bryan (Contact Author)

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) ( email )

1015 Floyd Avenue
Richmond, VA 23284
United States

Leonardo Martinez

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - IMF Institute ( email )

700 19 th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

HOME PAGE: http://works.bepress.com/leonardo_martinez/

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