Measuring Distribution and Mobility of Income and Wealth

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book cover of Measuring Distribution and Mobility of Income and WealthRaj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Janet C. Gornick, Barry Johnson, and Arthur Kennickell, editors

Economic research is increasingly focused on inequality in the distribution of personal resources and outcomes. One aspect of inequality is mobility: are individuals locked into their respective places in this distribution? To what extent do circumstances change, either over the lifecycle or across generations? Research not only measures inequality and mobility, but also analyzes the historical, economic, and social determinants of these outcomes, and the effect of public policies.

This volume explores the latest developments in the analysis of income and wealth distribution and mobility.

The collection of 23 studies is divided into five sections. The first examines observed patterns of income inequality and shifts in the distribution of earnings and in other factors that contribute to it. The next examines wealth inequality and includes a substantial discussion of the difficulties of defining and measuring wealth. The third section presents new evidence on the intergenerational transmission of inequality and the mechanisms that underlie it. The next section considers the impact of various policy interventions that are directed at reducing inequality. The final section addresses the challenges of combining household-level data, potentially from multiple sources such as surveys and administrative records, and aggregate data to study inequality, and explores ways to make survey data more comparable with national income accounts data.