In response to all the varied discussions regarding income inequality:
This is the actual U.S. pre-tax income distribution for individuals (not families or households – there’s a huge difference) taken from the U.S. Census Bureau. I plotted the chart on a logarithmic scale to better show the attenuated distribution characteristics (typically descreasing number of individual earners as income increases). The dashed line represents a best fit curve for the data, which would reflect a smooth logarithmic distribution of income per population in a perfect world (you wouldn’t want 1 CEO for every receptionist – we wouldn’t be able to afford anything – and why be a CEO if you only earn as much as a receptionist).
Strictly mathematically speaking, if your income is below the yellow dashed line, then you should be earning more to maintain a smooth distribution. Above the yellow dashed line, and you should be earning less to make the distribution curve smooth. The data show some skew at and over the $100k range. The high percentage of no income earners is misleading, since it includes anyone over age 15. I couldn’t find the raw data from the Census Bureau for those age 18 and over.
Again, this is pre-tax income. A progressive tax policy could consider targeting tax rates to provide a smoother distribution curve. This is only one slice of data. Take it for what it’s worth. In my opinion, it shows a fairly good distribution, with only slight skew at the upper range. It’s also unfortunate that the Census didn’t provide a better breakdown above $250k. I’d like to see that data to incorporate into my Excel tables.