Race Matters: Income Shares, Income Inequality, and Income Mobility For All U.S. Races

  • Citation: Akee, Randall, Maggie R. Jones, and Sonya R. Porter. “Race Matters: Income Shares, Income Inequality, and Income Mobility for All U.S. Races.” National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper no. 23733 (2017).
    • Topics:
    • Business and Trade
    • Keywords:
    • United States
    • income inequality
    • income immobility
    • race
    • ethnicity

This paper presents income shares, income inequality, and income immobility measures for all race and ethnic groups in the United States using the universe of U.S. tax returns matched at the individual level to U.S. Census race data for 2000–2014. Whites and Asians have a disproportionately large share of income in top quantiles. Income for most race groups ranges between 50–80 percent of the corresponding White income level consistently across various percentiles in the overall income distribution—suggesting that class alone cannot explain away overall income differences. The rate of income growth at the 90th percentile exceeds that of the 50th and 10th percentiles for all race and ethnic groups; divergence is largest for Whites, however, in the post-Great Recession era. Income immobility is largest for the highest-income races. Overall, these results paint a picture of a rigid income structure by race and ethnicity over time.

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