Sunday, October 30, 2011

The largest income transfer in history?

I have blogged here, here, and here with graphics about the alarming concentration of wealth in the US. But this superb graphic series in Mother Jones is simply outstanding and cognitively striking.

This graphic compares how much various income groups make today versus how much they would be making if everyone's incomes had grown at similar rates since 1979. By 2005, the bottom 80% were collectively earning about $743 billion less per year while the top 1% were earning about $673 billion more.

Over the past three decades, the US economy has become the classic winner takes all economy. Even as incomes of all others have remained more or less stationary, those of the top 1% have ballooned.

Productivity has increased, but income and wages have stagnated for all Americans, except those at the top one percentile.

Despite all these, why do Tea Party activism generate front page news? It can atleast partially be attributed to ignorance, as this cognitively striking graphical representations of actual distribution of income and wealth conveys.

I would not be surprised if this would constitute the largest income transfer ever in history anywhere in the world from one income category to another. The public policy dynamics of these three decades in the US has facilitated this widening of inequality. On similar issues, see the comparison of the US with Canada, Germany and Sweden.

Would be great to have such graphical representations of income distribution and other inequality determining aspects in India. The importance of such information in awareness creation and contributing to the depth of public debates on issues of popular concern is underestimated. If the rich data collected by state and central government departments, including the census office, on various sectors is made freely available in readily usable formats, it would be picked up by various advocacy groups and researchers, to generate such striking graphics. Public debate would be the richer for that.

1 comment:

KP said...

Dear Gulzar,

fantastic data ... wondering what the skew will be for India.