Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 11 No. 2 (Spring 1997)


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Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts

Article Citation

Gottschalk, Peter. 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 11(2): 21-40.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.11.2.21


This essay brings together the factual material on changes in the distribution of labor market income that any of the theories addressed in the other papers in this symposium must address. The broad stylized facts are that the rapid growth and stable level of inequality of both total family income and individual labor market that marked the postwar period came to an end during the 1970s. Real mean earnings grew very little but inequality of earnings rose substantially. This reflected increases both in inequality between education and experience groups and within groups. Mobility showed little change over this period.

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Gottschalk, Peter (Boston College)

JEL Classifications

D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
I32: Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
J31: Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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