Nimbyism in America: A Back-of-the-Envelope Finger-Exercise Calculation

Must-Read: Janet Gornick and Branko Milanovic (2015): Income Inequality in the United States in Cross-National Perspective: Redistribution Revisited:

Figure 1... [says that] inequality of market income is high in the US (.52) but – in cross-national terms – it is not off the charts....

Nine countries – about half of this group – report market income inequality at the level of .50 or higher.... The US has high market income inequality but it is not especially exceptional among the rich countries of the world.... [But] market income inequality for the working age population in the US is... higher than we would conclude from Figure 1 alone.... Relative to other high-income countries, the US has an exceptionally large low-wage labor market... a large share of top earners, many of whom also have high levels of capital income. The results seen in Figure 2 – which pertain to those households most reliant on market income – are consistent with these features of the American market income distribution. When we consider the US in cross-national perspective, the conclusions that flow from the results for working-age households should prompt us to shift more attention to policy and institutional factors that influence market income distributions.

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