The Haves and the Have-Mores

In the New York Times Economix blog, Catherine Rampell writes that many people in the ninetieth to ninety-fifth percentile of the American income distribution consider themselves to be "middle-class" or "upper-middle-class" when most of the rest of the nation would consider them to be rich. She moves beyond the easy answer: that rich people hang out with richer people to point out that the very rich are substantially wealthier than the more pedestrian rich. For example, in dollar terms an income in the 96th percentile is closer to an income in the first percentile than to an income in the 99th percentile. Since there are diminishing returns to income, there's no way of knowing whether the difference in living standards between the rich and the super-rich is particularly significant, but the cash difference is substantial and conspicuous. In Rampell's words, the rich are "falling further behind their respective Jonses" than the poor and the middle class, who compare themselves to other members of the poor and middle-class, are.

This graph of cash income by income percentile shows the stratification between what George Bush called the "haves" and the "have-mores." Note the sharp turn upwards around the ninetieth percentile.
SSDAN Office

No comments :

Post a Comment