It has always been true that depending on how you "present" the information, is how it will be "received".
This is nowhere more true than in the current debate on Income Inequality. According to Thomas Sowell, (in a 1999 speech), there are 39 million people in the bottom 20% and there are 64 million people in the top 20%.
In 1999 numbers, a household with total income of $75,000.00 would be in the top 20 %. Another comment he makes in this interview, which I find interesting, is that movement is pretty fluid in between the quintiles,
Now according to that which you hear in the media today, the rich are getting richer and the poor are staying poorer, but that is just massageing the numbers. According to a study Mr. Sowell references over an 8 year period in the late 90's more people had moved from the bottom 20% up to the top 20% than had stayed put.
Household income: Includes income of the householder and all other people 15 years and older in the household, whether or not they are related to the householder.
Median: The point that divides the household income distribution into halves, one-half with income above the median and the other with income below the median. The median is based on the income distribution of all households, including those with no income.
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So, we can already see that one way to make it seem there is a terrible "inequality" in income levels is to use household income instead of per capita income.
Check out this chart from the State of Maryland:
As you can see Per Capita income, that is income for a single person, is not much less than median household income. If I want someone to ,say, think the world is unfair....I would use Household income data and neglect to mention differences in population.
If, however, I want you to realize that the American dream is still alive.....I would tell you that after government transfer payments like food stamps, housing subsidies and Medicaid, the income gap is not that wide at all. If you can dream it.......you can do it.
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