About Stuart Levine

Income and Wealth Inequality

October 16, 2008--Wages and GDP

This chart from Kevin Drum shows the non-growth of wages compared to GDF during the Bush Administration.

Drum Wages GDP Comparison

April 18, 2008--Wealth and Life Expectancy

The CBO Report is here. I will post further comments this evening.

April 6, 2008--It Does Matter Who's In the White House

This chart is from the book to be published in June, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels, the Professor of Public and International Affairs and director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University:

IRS-CBPP Analysis I

I pulled the chart from Dani Rodrik's blog. As Rodrik explains:

[The chart shows] the difference that the President's party affiliation makes to the distribution of income during the four years of the president's term. (The distributional outcomes are shown with one year's lag.) When a Republican president is in power, people at the top of the income distribution experience much larger real income gains than those at the bottom--a difference of 1.5 percent per year going from the bottom to the top quintile in the income distribution. The situation is reversed when a Democrat is in power: those who benefit the most are the lower income groups. If you are in the bottom quintile, the difference between having a Democratic or a Republican president in office is an income gain (or loss) of more than 2 percent per year! Strikingly, compared to Republicans, Democratic presidents generate higher income gains for all income groups (although the difference is statistically significant only for lower income groups).

Bartels shows in his book that this difference is not a statistical artifact or a fluke. It is not the result of Democrats coming to power during better economic times, or of Republicans reining in the unsustainable excesses of Democratic administrations they replace. (It turns out that the same pattern prevails even when a Republican president is succeeded by another Republican.) These numbers are real and they are the outcome of partisan differences in policy. So if you are one of those who have bought the story that income distribution is the result of pure market forces and technological changes, with politics playing no role--think again.

March 28, 2008--Partying Like It's 1929.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities archived here has an analysis of statistics from the IRS that is extraordinary. It shows the enormity of the piece of the economic pie garnered by the wealthy during the Bush Administration. The principal chart is as follows:

IRS-CBPP Analysis I

Significantly, the following chart shows that there has been a long term trend that shifts the rewards of economic growth sharply toward the very wealthy:

IRS-CBPP Analysis II

December 13, 2007

CBO's Historical Federal Tax Rates, 1979-2006. The summary explanation is here.

Using the figures in the report, the NYT produced a chart showing that between 2003 and 2005 Americans in the top 1% of all income saw their income grow faster, in both real and relative terms, than the entire lower 20%.

Census Income Figures

November 25, 2007

This chart was prepared by the Angry Bear here from statistics published by the Census Bureau here and here. It shows real median household income "steps" measured in constant 2006 dollars.

Census Income Figures

From 2000 to 2006, the income of the lowest four groups, representing 80% of the population, actually fell. Entry into the fifth quintile rose by about 1.35%. Entry into the top five percent grew by 2.34%.

In other words, it took less income to make it into the second quintile (that's the upper limit of the first quintile), the third quintile (that's the upper limit of the second quintile) and the fourth quintile (that's the upper limit of the third quintile), but more to make it into the fifth quintile (that's the upper limit of the fourth quintile) and, as measured by the percentage increase, significantly more to make it into the top 5% (that's the bottom limit of the top 5%).

Another table prepared by the Census Bureau here and here, shows that between 2000 and 2006, the share of aggregate income received the bottom four quintiles (80% of the population) decreased. The only increase was the share going to the top 20%, the top 5% in particular. (The share of top fifth increased by 0.7%, but the share of the top 5% (that is, the top fifth of the top fifth) was 0.2% or a disproportionate 28.57% of the top quintile's total increase.)

October 14, 2007

This is from the WSJ based upon IRS statistics:

WSJ Graph

Here's a graph that shows a longer historical perspective:


This graph is based upon a paper published in 2003 by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez which can be found here.

Ocotober 11, 2007

See here.

October 12, 2007

This chart was published in today's NYT and was derived from an analysis of IRS figures by Citizens for Tax Justice:


changed October 17, 2008