American Wealth Inequality

"Emmanuel Saez, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, estimates that the top 1 percent of American households now controls 42 percent of the nation’s wealth, up from less than 30 percent two decades ago. The top 0.1 percent accounts for 22 percent, nearly double the 1995 proportion."
- Nelson Schwartz, In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat, NYT, April 23, 2016

A December 2016 New York Times report on economic inequality provides an excellent overview, including:

1) Patricial Cohen, A Bigger Economic Pie, but a Smaller Slice for Half of the U.S., Dec. 6, 2016

2) Some outstanding charts by Karl Russell, based on research by Piketty, Saez, and Zucman:

Note for the charts:

Income figures are for individual adults; incomes within married couples are split equally.
Source: Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman | By Karl Russell/The New York Times

(These charts were provided in the online version of Cohen's article, but only the first appeared in my paper edition, in which quality seems to decrease while the price increases.)

3) Eduardo Porter, A Dilemma for Humanity: Stark Inequality or Total War, NYT, Dec. 6, 2016. Here's an excerpt:

History — from Ancient Rome through the Gilded Age; from the Russian Revolution to the Great Compression of incomes across the West in the middle of the 20th century — suggests that reversing the trend toward greater concentrations of income, in the United States and across the world, might be, in fact, nearly impossible.

That’s the bleak argument of Walter Scheidel, a professor of history at Stanford, whose new book, “The Great Leveler” (Princeton University Press), is due out next month. He goes so far as to state that “only all-out thermonuclear war might fundamentally reset the existing distribution of resources.” If history is anything to go by, he writes, “peaceful policy reform may well prove unequal to the growing challenges ahead.”

See also:

David Henderson, The Decline in Labor's Share of U.S. Income, NYT, Sept. 8, 2013

Jared Bernstein, Why Labor’s Share of Income Is Falling, NYT, Sept. 9, 2013

Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites, the psychologists reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...
We’re inclined, as well, to believe that society is fairer than it really is. The reality that it’s not — that even college-educated black workers earn about 20 percent less than college-educated white ones, for example — is uncomfortable for both blacks who’ve been harmed by that unfairness and whites who’ve benefited from it.
- EMILY BADGER, Whites Have Huge Wealth Edge Over Blacks (but Don’t Know It), NYT, SEPT. 18, 2017

Amazingly, the wealth of the median American household has fallen 30 percent since 2007, according to the most recent Federal Reserve data, making higher energy costs an even harder sell.
- DAVID LEONHARDT, The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World, NYT, APRIL 9, 2019

Even now, most Americans don’t seem to realize just how rich today’s rich are. At a recent event, my CUNY colleague Janet Gornick was greeted with disbelief when she mentioned in passing that the top 25 hedge fund managers make an average of $850 million a year. But her number was correct.
- Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders and the Myth of the 1 Percent, NYT, April 18, 2019

If you have more wealth than me, you have more power than me, and if you have more power than me, we do not have a democratic society.

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