In this post, I’ll take a quick look at how the entire distribution of income has changed over time, not just the top earners. This is something I’ve been curious about for some time. Luckily, the Census supplies this data with all their other Historical Income Tables, specifically on table H-17. All of the figures in these tables are real figures, so they account for changes in prices due to inflation. They were deflated using the CPI-U-RS series, which estimates cost-of-living changes more closely than the CPI-U.
During the holidays I decided to see how the distribution has changed over time. The following is an animation showing the changes in the distribution of income between 1967 and 2013.
More about the data can be found in the Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013report. I made analagous videos for Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian households – you can find them below. I detail how this animation was created in another post.
Below are the analogous videos made for each race. Note for the year 2001 and earlier, the Consumer Population Survery (CPS) allow respondents to report only one race group. The data table H-17 is broken into subtables by racial category. Some racial categories have a slightly different name from 2002 onwards. The subtables are:
The above footnotes were taken from the footnotes of Table A-1 of the report on Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013.
The data used to make this series was the White Alone subtable for data between 2002 and 2013, and the White subtable, for data between 1967 and 2001.
White Non-Hispanic households
The data used to make this series was the White Alone, Not Hispanic subtable for data between 2002 and 2013, and the White, Not Hispanic subtable, for data between 1972 and 2001.
The data used to make this series was the Black Alone or in Combination subtable for data between 2002 and 2013, and the Black subtable for data between 1967 and 2001.
The data used to make this series was the Hispanics (Any Race) subtable.
The data used to make this series was the Asian Alone or in Combination subtable for data between 2002 and 2013, and the Asian and Pacific Islander subtable for data between 1987 and 2001.
Beginning with the 2003 CPS, respondents were allowed to choose one or more races. White alone refers to people who reported White and did not report any other race category. The use of this single-race population does not imply that it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing the data. The Census Bureau uses a variety of approaches. Information on people who reported more than one race, such as White and American Indian and Alaska Native or Asian and Black or African American, is available from Census 2010 through American FactFinder. About 2.9 percent of people reported more than one race in Census 2010. ↩↩2
For the year 2001 and earlier, the CPS allowed respondents to report only one race group. ↩↩2↩3
Black alone refers to people who reported Black and did not report any other race category. ↩
Asian alone refers to people who reported Asian and did not report any other race category. ↩↩2
Because Hispanics may be any race, data in this report for Hispanics overlap with data for racial groups. Being Hispanic was reported by 14.2 percent of White householders who reported only one race, 4.6 percent of Black householders who reported only one race, and 2.6 percent of Asian householders who reported only one race. Data users should exercise caution when interpreting aggregate results for the Hispanic population and for race groups because these populations consist of many distinct groups that differ in socioeconomic characteristics, culture, and recency of immigration. Data were first collected for Hispanics in 1972. ↩