The End of the Middle Class Century: How the 1% Won the Last 30 Years

More

Between 1921 and 2008, the top 10% and the bottom 90% shared income gains equally. The split was 50-50 exactly, according to a new fun interactive graphic built by the Economic Policy Institute with data from economist Emmanuel Saez.

Screen Shot 2012-09-11 at 12.17.59 PM.png

But between 1971 and 2008, real income declined for the bottom 90%. All the growth went to the top 10%, and more than half went to the top percentile.

Screen Shot 2012-09-11 at 11.47.03 AM.png

Saez' income data is widely used, but also controversial, since it focuses on market wages and discounts gains from government programs to help the lower-income. But this is a familiar story. The remarkable gains of the (broadly-defined) "middle class" in the middle of this century stopped cold in the last quarter of the 1900s. The all-important and impossible-to-answer question is whether the next generation will look more like the 30 years after World War II or the last 30 years.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In