Mar 17 2015

Research Seminar: The Demography of Inequality: Income, Consumption and Wealth – David Johnson (Bureau of Economic Analysis)


Growing interest in economic inequality continues to dominate the headlines, with recent research showing that inequality has increased in the U.S. using three lenses – income, consumption and wealth. No research combines the measures of income, consumption, and wealth into the measurement of economic well-being. This research uses three data sets to measure the demography of inequality in the U.S. from 1989 through 2010, using the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey, the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The main results use the CE and SCF to examine the demographic composition of distributions using income, consumption and wealth, and the changes in these distributions between 1989 and 2010. These distributions are compared across race, gender, age, and education, and confirm that certain populations are economically vulnerable – children in single parent families, high school dropouts and blacks. Preliminary results will also use the PSID to demonstrate the importance of using all three measures from the same families.

Bio of the author:

David S. Johnson is the Chief Economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis. He is responsible for coordinating cross-program research projects and the development of supplemental measures in satellite accounts, and conducts outreach to the academic community. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Minnesota, and currently serves as Vice President of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and on the Board of Overseers for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.