Income mobility – sticky at the top and bottom

Good writeup today in the Wall Street Journal about income equality and mobility. Very detailed data from a 2005 Bush Treasury Department analysis.

The chart tracks households across two year – 1996 and 2005 – to see how much people moved from one quintile to another. It isn’t too surprising to see that there is a lot of stickyness at the top and bottom.

  • At the top end, 61% of workers that were in the top quintile in 1996 were still there in 2005
  • At the low end, 55% of workers that were in the bottom quintile in ’96 were still there in ’05


Source: Wall Street Journal

Apparently the analysis shows that income mobility has declined in recent years. I guess that is bad.

In a related thought, I’d like to see an analysis of the composition of the top 1% – e.g., a tally by profession. Based on how the Occupy and other folks talk, everyone seems to assume that the list would be 99.9% would be a greedy corporate baron. But won’t the list also have piles of actors, media personalities, and athletes? How about doctors and lawyers? Are these folks bad, too? Perhaps I’ll dig into this and see if there’s any data around.

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