A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies

Inequality Data and Statistics

Inequality data and statistics give us an important insight into the state of our economy and the health of our society.

In this section, we offer quick takes on economic inequality, as categorized in five key areas: income, wealth, global, health, and racial. In each category, we chart some inequality statistics and discuss the basic numbers.

You can click on each of the section headings to find more data on that topic area.

Income Inequality

Data from tax returns show that the top 1 percent of households in the United States received 8.9 percent of all pre-tax income in 1976. In 2012, the top 1 percent share had more than doubled to 22.46 percent.

Source: Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, “Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 2003. Updated to 2008 at

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Wealth Inequality

The total inflation-adjusted net worth of the Forbes 400, an annual listing of America’s richest individuals, rose from $507 billion in 1995 to $1.62 trillion in 2007, before increasing again to $2 trillion in 2012.

Source: 1995-2008: Arthur B. Kennickell, “Ponds and Streams: Wealth and Income in the U.S., 1989 to 2007,” Federal Reserve Board Working Paper, January 7, 2009, Table A1, p. 55. 2009-10: Forbes Magazine press release via Business Wire. Additional Source: {a href=””}{/a) Adjusted for inflation using CPI-U.

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Global Inequality

Estimates from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, released in October 2010, show that the richest 0.5 percent of global adults hold well over a third of the world’s wealth.

Source: Credit Suisse Research Institute, Global Wealth Report, October 2010.

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Inequality and Health

Approximately one third of annual deaths in the United States, epidemiological researchers believe, can be credited to the nation’s excessive inequality.

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Racial Inequality

Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. Dollars inflation adjusted to 2010

Read more racial inequality…