Data & Statistics on Inequality

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Inequality data and statistics give us an important insight into the state of our economy and the health of our society.

In this section, we offer quick takes on economic inequality, as categorized in five key areas: income, wealth, global, health, and racial. In each category, we chart some inequality statistics and discuss the basic numbers.

You can click on each of the section headings to find more data on that topic area.

Income Inequality

Data from tax returns show that the top 1 percent of households in the United States received 8.9 percent of all pre-tax income in 1976. In 2008, the top 1 percent share had more than doubled to 21.0 percent.

Top Percent Share Of Total Pre-tax Income 1913-2008

Source: Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, “Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 2003. Updated to 2008 at

Wealth Inequality

The total inflation-adjusted net worth of the Forbes 400, an annual listing of America’s richest individuals, rose from $507 billion in 1995 to $1.62 trillion in 2007, before dropping back to $1.37 trillion in 2010.

Total Wealth Forbes 400 Richest Americans

Source: 1995-2008: Arthur B. Kennickell, “Ponds and Streams: Wealth and Income in the U.S., 1989 to 2007,” Federal Reserve Board Working Paper, January 7, 2009, Table A1, p. 55. 2009-10: Forbes Magazine press release via Business Wire. Adjusted for inflation using CPI-U.

Global Inequality

Estimates from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, released in October 2010, show that the richest 0.5 percent of global adults hold well over a third of the world’s wealth.

Global Population and Wealth Shares for Adults at Various Levels of Net Worth 2010

Source: Credit Suisse Research Institute, Global Wealth Report, October 2010.

Inequality and Health

Approximately one third of annual deaths in the United States, epidemiological researchers believe, can be credited to the nation’s excessive inequality.

Death rates linked to inequality

Source: Naoki Kondo et al., “Income Inequality, Mortality, and Self-rated Health: Meta-analysis of Multi-level Studies,” British Medical Journal, 2009.

Racial Inequality

Racial Wealth Gap In Median Net Worth

Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. Dollars inflation adjusted to 2010

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