Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Income inequality chart contest

Sub title - the poor are getting richer

Cafe Hayek is running an intersting competition. Inspired by this graph:

The rules of the competition are:

Write ONE sentence explaining ONE thing that is wrong with concluding that these numbers are evidence that the US economy has become more tilted toward the rich at the expense of the poor.
My first thought - percentages tell us nothing about how big the pie is - has already gone.

This made me think about how we portray relative poverty, I couldn't find a similar chart but it didn't take long to find these charts on The Poverty Site:

Nowhere do they mention the how much richer the poor got in real terms so I did a bit of digging and used this site to calculate that the UK Economy grew by $871bn between 1997 and 2005, their last year. This means that the bottom 10%, note this isn't necessarily the same people over the period, recived 2% of this or an extra $17.5Bn.

Assuming that the population was relatively stable at 60m,. I know thats a bit weak, then 6m people were effectively $3,000 better off over 8 years. Not as depressing when you look at it that way.

1 comment:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Here's my entry:

"IF the ratio of average incomes of the richest 1% was less than or equal to 13.6 times as much as the average incomes of the poorest 1% in 1976; THEN the total increase enjoyed by the poorest 90% is greater than the total increase enjoyed by the richest 1%; ELSE not."