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Income, Wealth and Statistics

by Vanadium 50
Tags: income, statistics, wealth
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russ_watters
#19
Nov1-11, 05:08 PM
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Quote Quote by John Creighto View Post
You missed my point. I was saying that if we are going to break down wealth inequality per demographic then we should break down inflation per demographic so the inflation rate used for each demographic represents on average the inflation rate they actually see.
I'm just not clear on why that matters or how you could apply that to the numbers given. If the first bracket makes $31k now and the second bracket makes $50k now, it should not be seen to imply that in 10 years the second bracket (those formerly in the first bracket) will still be making $50k.
I discussed the fact that not everyone sees the same rate of inflation in a previous thread:
http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=544676
I think that's the wrong thread....
Older people will already own a house so to them housing inflation is not as much of an issue as it is to younger people. Poor people spend a much greater percentage of their income on food and housing so changes in housing prices will have a much large impact on lower income earners then higher income earners.
That's fine, but I really don't see how it applies to the age-dependent income data.
WhoWee
#20
Nov1-11, 05:10 PM
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Quote Quote by ParticleGrl View Post
I have no real intuition for this either way- but do the more conservative members of this forum TRULY believe that liberals/progressives/more leftish people truly want everyone to have the same outcome? Because if this is the case, we have serious and fundamental miscommunications.
I think the outcome desired by the progressives is permanent political power. Accordingly, they're willing to spend whatever it takes to achieve control.

As an unrepresented independent conservative small businessperson - I favor the checks and balances of a two party system but would like to see the emergence of a third party. I hoped at one point the TEA Party would evolve into a Party of small business owners, managers, and professionals - but the media (IMO) made certain that did not happen.
russ_watters
#21
Nov1-11, 05:19 PM
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Quote Quote by ParticleGrl View Post
The OECD measures poverty using INCOME, not income inequality. Its logically possible to have a high-income gini coefficient society with everyone is above a poverty line.
Could you source that please? When I noticed the poverty rate provided for the US in Laurie's link was much higher than the US gov't reports, I googled and found this:
Quote Quote by wiki
The main poverty line used in the OECD and the European Union is based on "economic distance", a level of income set at 60% of the median household income.[21]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty

That may also be some sloppy wording on my part, as that isn't gini per se, but something related --- still, that doesn't seem to match what you said.
I'm not sure the OECD definition is very different from your definition. Certainly I consider food, shelter, clothing and medical 'basic needs'?
You misread: I'm saying their definition doesn't match their measurement. But until we get the measurement clarified, that might be moot...
Obviously, using an income level is a proxy for counting those families who cannot afford food,housing,clothing,etc, but I don't see a cheap way to collect that sort of data without using income as a proxy.
Clearly, but I also don't think it would be all that difficult to use surveys of those actual quality of life items. But then, if we did a survey for lack of food, lack of housing and lack of clothing, we'd get virtually zero poverty in every developed nation and I don't think that that's a desirable result.
This statement is the real reason I've responded to this post. I think the phrase "equality of outcome" (and its bastard brother "equality of opportunity") is a straw-man that no one thinks is desirable.
I strongly disagree. I think that while there is often some obfuscation, there is no other reasonable way to characterize forced redistribution of resources than "equality of outcome".
I have no real intuition for this either way- but do the more conservative members of this forum TRULY believe that liberals/progressives/more leftish people truly want everyone to have the same outcome? Because if this is the case, we have serious and fundamental miscommunications.
Not exactly equal, no, just more equal (with rarely a definition of how equal). If you thought I meant that "equality of outcome" was intended to be complete, that's not what I intended to convey.
mheslep
#22
Nov1-11, 05:27 PM
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From the source referenced in the Wiki article on poverty measurement. Russ is correct:

Within the EU poverty is normally measured by using relative income poverty lines. This involves working out average or median equivalised household incomes in a country. A poverty line is then set which is a percentage of that average income. Commonly these poverty lines range from 40-70% of household income.
http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/eapn.shtml

To my mind such a measurement would be better defined as the "social engineering line", or the "envy line", with only a vague correlation with poverty.
Vanadium 50
#23
Nov1-11, 05:35 PM
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Quote Quote by John Creighto View Post
Now as for trying to be scientific about it, what statistics do you think best measure social mobility.
I don't know the right answer; just that an uncorrected income or wealth percentile is not it.

Quote Quote by LaurieAG View Post
The attached international statistics are from a NYT article.
Interestingly, they use dollars spent as a proxy for educational quality. Since we have statistics for educational outcomes, wouldn't that have made more sense? (Not that the US does particularly well there either, but at least that directly measures what they want to know)
mheslep
#24
Nov1-11, 07:04 PM
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The correlation is worse yet: the NY Times table uses percent of GDP dollars spent.
Vanadium 50
#25
Nov1-11, 08:40 PM
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"Economic distance" seems like an interesting statistic, but it seems odd to equate it with poverty:

In the Republic of Upper Slobovia, 20% of the people make 59,000 euros a year, 60% make 100,000, and 20% make 125,000. The median is therefore 100,000 euros and 20% are "below the poverty line".

In the People's Democratic Republic of Lower Slobovia, the 1% party elite make 1,000,000 euros a year, and the other 99% make 1000 euros a year. According to this metric, nobody is "below the poverty line."

This metric is interesting, but seems not really related to its name.
russ_watters
#26
Nov1-11, 09:52 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
From the source referenced in the Wiki article on poverty measurement. Russ is correct:


http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/eapn.shtml

To my mind such a measurement would be better defined as the "social engineering line", or the "envy line", with only a vague correlation with poverty.
Please note: I think it is perfectly fine to have a desired minimum standard of living in a country and to name it and have statistics measuring and tracking it (I'd call it "minimum acceptable standard of living"). But to reiterate: it is just a misuse of the word "poverty" to use that name to describe it if neither the goal nor the measure bear any resemblance to the definition of "poverty". Heck, the EU measure isn't even tied to standard of living at all!
John Creighto
#27
Nov1-11, 10:30 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
I'm aware that inflation is a problem in general, but I'm still not even seeing where one would put an inflation adjustment in a single-point-in-time snapshot. The income data, as it was posted, says something very important to me:

Age Median Income
15-24 $31K
25-34 $50K
35-44 $60K
45-54 $65K
55-64 $55K
65+ $28K

This says that if I were a typical 22-year old, and the US economy held status quo (flat unemployment rate, just enough growth to counter population growth, etc.) I should expect to see annual 5% over inflation raises for the next 10 years or so, which will increase my annual before tax earnings by a net 61%.

Could you tell me, specifically, where you would apply an inflation adjustment and what it might tell us?
I guess I missed the point you were trying to make. If we are trying to answer if things are better or worse then they were in the past then we do need to include other points in time and thus would have to account for inflation somehow.

You can argue that you can conclude from a single snapshot in time of the income or wealth averages that there is an economic progression with age. However, for this to tell the complete picture, you would need to establish some constraints. An example of such a constraint would if both of the following conditions hold:
1)The income ratio differences between age groups remains relatively constant with time. 2)For some age group the income/wealth remains relatively constant with time when adjusting for inflation.

One might alternatively look at second order statistics like the average percentage income gain someone made over 10 years in each age group and see how this changes with time.

Now with regards to social mobility perhaps some kind of measure similar to diffusion could be used.What is the probability of an individual making a given percentile change in their income or wealth in a given period of time. This would sort of be analogous to thermodynamic mixing. In cases were very few people hold most of the wealth the distance measure could be based on the integration of wealth/income share instead of population share.
apeiron
#28
Nov2-11, 04:12 AM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
I strongly disagree. I think that while there is often some obfuscation, there is no other reasonable way to characterize forced redistribution of resources than "equality of outcome".
Like ParticleGrl says, the strawman of "equality of outcome" is one you frequently use. But can you point to a single post about inequality measures where that has been the actual stated goal of a poster?

Many may like to see more equality. But they would still accept that there has to be a balance between incentivising people and promoting social cohesion.
russ_watters
#29
Nov2-11, 07:52 AM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
Like ParticleGrl says, the strawman of "equality of outcome" is one you frequently use. But can you point to a single post about inequality measures where that has been the actual stated goal of a poster?

Many may like to see more equality. But they would still accept that there has to be a balance between incentivising people and promoting social cohesion.
Your second paragraph contradicts your first, probably because you didn't read my post properly and are assuming I must be seeing people argue for absolute equality, which I just said I'm not. I'm seeing people argue for - as you just said - more equality. And they want that equality to be created by force of government. And they want that equality to be in the form of living conditions, financial resources, etc: the outcomes of our efforts in life. Put those words in bold together and you get forced [more] equality of outcome.

This is just too basic for me to readily believe you guys are misunderstanding that badly.

[Edit] What is difficult to pin down for you guys is exactly how much equality you want to force. But we have some hints:

-In one recent thread, the OP advocated a 95% top marginal tax rate.
-In another, based on a botched survey, the OP advocated a wealth distribution that equalled Sweden's income distribution(see V50's #1...) and argued that most Americans want that.
-Not hot lately, but we've also discussed affirmative action, whic is forced complete equality.

Now income is a proxy for virtually every standard of living issue, from food and clothes to what kind of car you drive. As I said, it is tough to pin down, but it seems a number of people in your camp want income or wealth inequality forced down by half or even much more.

But in other specific areas - expanding areas - people do actually argue for forced complete equality. Recent discussions have included healthcare and college education.

But again, the question of how much outcome equality you and others like you advocate forcing is something you will have to clarify.
mheslep
#30
Nov2-11, 11:44 AM
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The $20/hour minimum wage demand floated by some in the Occupy Whatever protests is another example of complete equality of outcome, as distributing that wage across the US labor force would eat up the entire $7.8 trillion in US annual income.
John Creighto
#31
Nov2-11, 01:27 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
The $20/hour minimum wage demand floated by some in the Occupy Whatever protests is another example of complete equality of outcome, as distributing that wage across the US labor force would eat up the entire $7.8 trillion in US annual income.
Might be doable without much tax changes if you cut a lot of government administration costs. That is do it with a negative income tax. Of course Iím only speculating but Iíll try to work out the numbers later.
mheslep
#32
Nov2-11, 02:44 PM
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Quote Quote by John Creighto View Post
Might be doable without much tax changes if you cut a lot of government administration costs. That is do it with a negative income tax. Of course I’m only speculating but I’ll try to work out the numbers later.
The point is at that level of minimum wage nearly everyone must be paid the same, from the late Steve Jobs to the 16 year old on the first job: the $7.8 trillion national income distributed at $20/hour=$40k per year is 195 million people in a country with 205 million working age adults.
LaurieAG
#33
Nov3-11, 05:15 AM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
Ok....what is your reason for posting them?
...
I've seen a lot from the OECD that bothers me, where it appears the organization allows an ideology to influence them to try to force the data to connect their favored ideology to their stated goal.
The Australian old age poverty rate was 39% and second last behind South Korea.
Vanadium 50
#34
Nov3-11, 07:57 AM
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Quote Quote by LaurieAG View Post
The Australian old age poverty rate was 39% and second last behind South Korea.
Which is maybe a good example of the points I was making.

OECD measures poverty by income, not wealth. A person who has a comfortable retirement nest egg and is drawing it down will appear poor. A person who has the same standard of living from a pension will not.

The fraction of people in poverty in old age, according to OECD's metric, is a function of the number of people in old age. Imagine I have two countries: one with 20% of the people in old age (however it is defined) and one with 10%. Assume that the income distribution of old people is the same in the two countries, as is the income distribution of non-old people. Because retirees have less income than workers, the median income is lower in the group with the 20%. Therefore, the fraction defined as poor in the 20% is smaller.

I think most of us would agree this is not a desirable feature in the definition of poverty.
apeiron
#35
Nov11-11, 02:24 AM
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Inequality still trending. Pew reports....

The wealth gap between younger and older Americans has stretched to the widest on record, worsened by a prolonged economic downturn that has wiped out job opportunities for young adults and saddled them with housing and college debt.

The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Monday.

While people typically accumulate assets as they age, this wealth gap is now more than double what it was in 2005 and nearly five times the 10-to-1 disparity a quarter-century ago, after adjusting for inflation.

http://www.aim.org/newswire/us-wealt...s-widest-ever/
Of course, what this actually means is that today's young can expect to be super-rich when they get old as by then the going disparity should be 470 to 1 or sumpthing.

Another sharp observation is the old get the lion's share of welfare too. Result!

“It makes us wonder whether the extraordinary amount of resources we spend on retirees and their health care should be at least partially reallocated to those who are hurting worse than them,” said Harry Holzer, a labor economist and public policy professor at Georgetown University who called the magnitude of the wealth gap “striking.”

Paul Taylor, director of Pew Social & Demographic Trends and co-author of the analysis, said the report shows that today’s young adults are starting out in life in a very tough economic position. “If this pattern continues, it will call into question one of the most basic tenets of the American Dream — the idea that each generation does better than the one that came before,” he said.
Vanadium 50
#36
Nov11-11, 05:44 AM
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That is what I would expect to happen as people move from defined benefits plans (pensions) and into defined contributions plans (401K's and similar).

It is also what I would expect during a housing price slump. A 35-year old with the typical low US savings rate has essentially all his wealth tied up in one asset: the home.

The more interesting statistics is that when this 35-year old becomes 65, under what assumptions does his standard of living exceed, lag or equal the present day 65-year-old.


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