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 disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average nearly nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 38 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 184 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.
The share of America’s wealth held by the nation’s wealthiest has changed markedly over the past century. That share peaked in the late 1920s, right before the Great Depression, then fell by more than half over the next three decades. But the equalizing trends of the mid 20th century have now been almost completely undone. At the top of the American economic summit, the richest of the nation’s rich now hold as large a wealth share as they did in the 1920s.
Estimates from the Credit Suisse Research Institute show that the richest 0.5 percent of global adults hold well over a third of the world’s wealth.
U.S. households with annual incomes below $50,000 report higher levels of stress than other families. Average stress levels have been falling since the 2007-2008 financial crisis, but the stress-gap between rich and poor households has been increasing.
The billionaires who make up the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans now have as much wealth as all African-American households, plus one-third of America’s Latino population, combined. In other words, just 400 extremely wealthy individuals have as much wealth as 16 million African-American households and 5 million Latino households.