Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, October 23, 2002
 
Jane Galt links to this table to discuss Paul Krugman's noted "Gilded Age" article. The table shows US income by quintile as a percentage of the poverty level from 1967 to 1994. Her comment on it is:

Well, Krugman is right that inequality is increasing. But it seems to deny his assertion that it is increasing because the bottom 4 quintiles have basically stayed stat, with all the increase in GDP since 1970 accruing to the very rich.

It seems to me that the table actually underlines and confirms Krugman's point that the increase in income levels under current policies goes only to the highest earners. There have been increases for other quintiles since 1967, but those increases were almost entirely in the pre-Reagan era.







Quintile196719791994
10.971.110.92
21.942.282.17
32.673.253.26
43.514.384.67
56.067.189.22

From 1967 until 1979, all quintiles did well and there was little increase in inequality. From 1979 until 1994, the lowest dropped drastically, the second dropped moderately, the third had no real change, and the fourth rose moderately. Only the top quintile really did well. Broadly speaking, the graph seems to confirm that in the Reagan/Bush years inequality grew substantially, while living standards were largely stagnant for most.

This table carries the data further than Jane's does. It shows that all groups did well in the Clinton boom, while the top still did best. The bottom quintile finally got back to the level of 1979, while the other quintiles all hit unprecedented numbers.

The table also shows data by race, which has some interesting implications. Blacks, except for the underclass of the bottom quintile, did substantially better than Hispanics, while the number of Hispanic families being counted grew far faster proportionally, suggesting that immigration is a major factor in keeping the lower quintiles low. Blacks overall did extremely well in the Clinton years, again excluding the bottom quintile, which shows that Clinton's enormous personal popularity among blacks has a real basis.



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