Facts and Stuff on the Distributions of Income and Race in America

Via Andrew Gelman at the Monkey Cage, an article on this recent Gallup poll regarding people's income and their perceptions of income distributions, tax burdens, etc. 

The thrust of the article is that there are some disparities between where people fall in the overall income distribution and their perceptions of how the tax burden should be distributed—Not my normal thing, but interesting nevertheless.

More below…

What hooked me was Gelman's comments regarding awareness of general population statistics.  I freely admit that I had no concrete numbers in my head for a lot of these stats, so I thought I would share some links that provide additional information for what's contained in the posts linked above.  With the saliency of immigration, the federal budget, taxes, and the debt ceiling, this information seems appropriate.  Although this information has been out for a while now and is readily accessible, I think most of our encounters with these topics entail a great deal in the way of arguments, and generally less in the way of simple statistical facts on these subjects.  And as the articles linked above suggest, people generally have very skewed perceptions of where they fall in relation to other groups, whether those groups be based on race/ethnicity, or income/wealth.    

  1. Median household income:  $49,777
  2. Mean household income:  $67,976
  3. Percentage of households in the US making more than $200,000:  3.8 percent
  4. Largest single income distribution category:  $50,000–$74,999 with 18 percent of the population

Similarly, I was looking over other census data at demographic information.  So here's some of that as well:

  1. Hispanic/Latino Population: 16.3 percent
  2. White/non-Hispanic:  56.1 percent
  3. Black: 12.6 percent
  4. Asian:  4.8 percent

I guess it's obvious, but for clarity's sake, these figures represent each group's share of the total US population. And clearly they don't add up to 100 percent as I have not accounted for all of the groups listed in the original data–just the ones that seem to generally be the most prominent in public discussions. 

More data can be found here, and here.  These are the sources from which I pulled the stats listed above, and both are from the US Census Bureau. 

About Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2013. His research focuses on the political and economic determinants of foreign economic and security policy, security issues, and state repression.

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