A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality

Source: Chad Stone, Danilo Trisi, Arloc Sherman, and Brandon DeBot, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Updated: October 26, 2015

From the summary:
….Data from a variety of sources contribute to this broad picture of strong growth and shared prosperity for the early postwar period, followed by slower growth and growing inequality since the 1970s. Within these broad trends, however, different data tell slightly different parts of the story (and no single source of data is better for all purposes than the others).

This guide consists of four sections. The first describes the commonly used sources and statistics on income and discusses their relative strengths and limitations in understanding trends in income and inequality. The second provides an overview of the trends revealed in those key data sources. The third and fourth sections supply additional information on wealth, which complements the income data as a measure of how the most well-off Americans are doing, and poverty, which measures how the least well-off Americans are doing…..