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Monday, May 23, 2005

Inequality and Opportunity in America (From Cafe Hayek)

Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek has been doing a series of posts on the topic of inequality in America (I wish I had this when we discussed this in one of my classes earlier this semester). He closes out the series in this post where he presents data on trends in median inflation-adjusted annual family income from 1970 to 2000. Using Census data, he finds (note: all figures are inflation-adjusted):
    • Median household income (inflation adjusted) went from $40,000 to $54,000 over the period;
    • Median income for households where both spouses worked went from $50,000 to $74,000 over the period;
    • Although a lot poorer than the other groups, median income for female-headed households (with no spouse) went from $21,000 to $27,000 over the period;
    • The only group where income remained flat over the period was households that were headed by males with no spouses.
It's important to note that these are median incomes. So, they are not driven by the rich getting richer, but by the "typical" household getting richer. So as a whole, almost every group is better off than they were thirty years ago.

Click here for the whole piece. While you're there, check out the earlier ones in the series.

Correction: The series was done by Russell Roberts, not Don Boudreaux (as I originally posted). I blame it on decaff coffee.

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