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Discussion: (22 comments)

  1. Seattle Sam

    There were also a lot of very logical reasons why Germans were in trouble during the 1920-30s. Blaming non-Aryans had more popular appeal. Emotions sell. Thinking requires effort.

  2. Dr. Perry:

    From the blurb on Amazon for Tyler Cowen’s book “Average is Over”: “The widening gap between rich and poor means dealing with one big, uncomfortable truth: If you’re not at the top, you’re at the bottom.”

    Could you put that comment in perspective in light of your post?

    1. morganovich

      sounds like advice from ricky bobby’s dad.

      “if you ain’t first, you’re last…”

      1. Citizen Buddy

        Ricky Bobby after he was growed up and racin himself:

        “If you ain’t first, you’re last. You know, you know what I’m talking about?”

        1. morganovich

          the trick is to be on them like a spider monkey.

    2. jd

      Perhaps you should ask the author of the blurb at Amazon (and it wasn’t Tyler Cowen) to explain their comment in light of Dr. Perry’s post.

  3. would be interesting to add a row that says – “has been arrested” and another that says “arrested for drugs”

    and perhaps a 3rd – dollars of entitlements received.

    oh and a fourth: gets earned income credit
    and itemizes deductions

    1. Entitlements for the poor are not included in the income figures. Which is why tier one folk often do better than tier three

      1. but it would be interesting, I’d think to see where the entitlements are in play… in terms of the quintiles.

  4. slotowner

    I think what is more telling is the Second & Fourth Quintile. The top & bottom always includes the outliers that will never fit in.
    The average pay per earner in the Second was about 75% of the Fourth but the second only had half the earners & were twice as likely to be single. They both had a part-time worker about the same.
    Since these groups both had about 22-23 under 35 biggest difference is the 18% jump in over 65. The main reason why some people are in the second vs. fourth quintile is that they are retired singles living modest but probably not bad lives.
    While that is not everyone’s dream retirement, it is not a bad way to go & probably worth more “inequity”.

  5. more than five times as many households in the bottom quintile included adults who did not work at all (67.3%)“….

    So jobs in the prison laundry and kitchen don’t count, eh?

  6. PeakTrader

    I guess, some people believe falling real median household income isn’t a problem. Chart:

    A partial explanation isn’t good enough.

    1. Nice chart from the EPI…which was founded by Robert Reich and some Dukakis flunkies. Not exactly truth seeking. It’s meaningless, unless of course you are a class warrior and need some ammo. Its not an apples to apples comparison. If you follow the people earning $47K in 1979, and find out what those same people are earning now…people move in and out of those quintiles. There was also a huge increase in the divorce rate and a gajillion other variables which also changes the story.

      1. PeakTrader

        Let’s ignore any elephants in a room, like “a rapid concentration of wealth at the extreme high end,” stagnant or falling real wages with rising productivity, or a decline in the real minimum wage, while teen unemployment increased (represented by the steep decline in the teen labor force participation rate and unemployment rate).

    1. PeakTrader

      Higher U.S. wages may attract top computer engineers from India.

      However, prices don’t have to fall, profits can rise instead.

      More productive low-skiled immigrants, with a stronger work ethic, can benefit the U.S. economy.

      And, a higher minimum wage can attract them.

  7. Benjamin Cole

    If we got rid of minimum wage and child labor laws, more families would have wage earners…

  8. Vic Volpe

    MP —
    I agree with most of your post. But I like Charles Murray’s analysis (of this issue with just White America) in Coming Apart, especially when he compares 1960 with today, and Fishtown (Phila — which I grew up next neighborhood over) and Belmont (MA).
    The point that he makes, and you miss, is that over time the nation has become less socially mobile — we are more likely to live in ‘bubbles’ of our own ‘class’ today, and will likely stay there. He thinks the American sense of community is coming apart. You make the dynamics apear as a natural phenomenon.

    Values like education, marriage, civics, etc. are not temporary in consequences. As Murray points out, and I agree (even growing up in a place like Fishtown), in 1960 we were a little more of a ‘classless’ society or at least mixed more in comparison to today where we are more likely to live in a ‘bubble’. So if the trend continues, the outlook is not good.

  9. It would be interesting to see the effect of the baby boomer aging. Like us or not the baby boomers were the last generation that grew up with a more unified culture. AND before the entitlement class.

    It would also be interesting to see the employer, i.e. government, self employed, small business, large corporation.

  10. Thanks for cogent analysis of attributes associated with income inequality by quintile. Marital status, age of householders, work status, and education of householders all have meaning as we think through proposed policies that could be undertaken.

  11. Vic Volpe
  12. Vic Volpe

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