Is the top 1% the right group to be discussing when it comes to wage inequality?

Much of the media discussion of increasing wage inequality in the US is framed as a discussion of how the top 1% is growing richer relative to the rest of the population.

The World Top Incomes Database, hosted by the Paris School of Economics provides a breakdown of the yearly incomes for many major countries since the early 1900s.

Using this data to track US data, here is a breakdown of average (mean) vs top 10%, and vs top 1% for most of the last 100 years:Image

So it would appear than the top 1% has been doing very well for the last few decades.

But is it all of the top 1%?  To check this, let’s break down the top 1%:



We see that the blue and purple groups — those not in the top .1% are getting crumbs.  The top .01% to the top .1% is getting some, but it is the top hundredth of a percent that has got the lion’s share of any income increases in the last few decades.

It is good to be rich.