Wealth, Income and Inequality

Data and analysis on Wealth, Income and Inequality

Qu: how have incomes of different social groups changed over time?

More specifically: Real income changes by quintile (plus top 5% and top 1%) in last 40+ years in the US?

An: check out this dataset - https://datahub.io/core/household-income-us-historical

World Inequality Database


Download full dataset from https://wid.world/data/

The World Inequality Database (WID.world) aims to provide open and convenient access to the most extensive available database on the historical evolution of the world distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries

During the past fifteen years, the renewed interest for the long-run evolution of income and wealth inequality gave rise to a flourishing literature. In particular, a succession of studies has constructed top income share series for a large number of countries (see Thomas Piketty 2001, 2003, T. Piketty and Emmanuel Saez 2003, and the two multi-country volumes on top incomes edited by Anthony B. Atkinson and T. Piketty 2007, 2010; see also A. B. Atkinson et al. 2011 and Facundo Alvaredo et al. 2013 for surveys of this literature). These projects generated a large volume of data, intended as a research resource for further analysis, as well as a source to inform the public debate on income inequality. To a large extent, this literature follows the pioneering work of Simon Kuznets 1953, and A. B. Atkinson and Alan Harrison 1978, and extends it to many more countries and years.

World Income Inequality Database


Excel file: https://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/WIID/WIID_19Dec2018.xlsx

The World Income Inequality Database (WIID) contains information on income inequality in various countries, and is maintained by the United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER). The database was originally compiled during 1997-99 for the research project Rising Income Inequality and Poverty Reduction, directed by Giovanni Andrea Corina. A revised and updated version of the database was published in June 2005 as part of the project Global Trends in Inequality and Poverty, directed by Tony Shorrocks and Guang Hua Wan. The database was revised in 2007 and a new version was launched in May 2008.

The database contains data on inequality in the distribution of income in various countries. The central variable in the dataset is the Gini index, a measure of income distribution in a society. In addition, the dataset contains information on income shares by quintile or decile. The database contains data for 159 countries, including some historical entities. The temporal coverage varies substantially across countries. For some countries there is only one data entry; in other cases there are over 100 data points. The earliest entry is from 1867 (United Kingdom), the latest from 2003. The majority of the data (65%) cover the years from 1980 onwards. The 2008 update (version WIID2c) includes some major updates and quality improvements, in fact leading to a reduced number of variables in the new version. The new version has 334 new observations and several revisions/ corrections made in 2007 and 2008.


The most widely used sources of data and statistics on household income and its distribution are the annual survey of households conducted as part of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Statistics of Income (SOI) data compiled from a large sample of individual income tax returns. The Census Bureau publishes annual reports on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States based on the CPS data,[2] and the IRS publishes an annual report on individual income tax returns based on the SOI.[3] While the Federal Reserve also collects income data in its triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF),[4] the SCF is more valuable as the best source of survey data on wealth.

Each agency produces its own tables and statistics and makes a public-use file of the underlying data available to other researchers. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has developed a model that combines CPS and SOI data to estimate household income both before and after taxes, as well as average taxes paid by income group back to 1979.[5] Economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez have used SOI data to construct estimates of the concentration of income at the top of the distribution back to 1913.[6] That work has been expanded recently to examine trends in wealth concentration.[7] CBO and Piketty-Saez regularly release reports incorporating the latest available data. source

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, “Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 131, No. 2, May 2016, http://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/SaezZucman2016QJE.pdf.

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