Monday, March 10, 2014


Income inequality is quantitative. But what if you just asked people about their perceptions of their own status?

The General Social Survey has been asking people for decades whether they feel they are in the lower class, working class, middle class, or upper class.

Bryan Caplan, writing at EconLog, reports that there is a downward trend in how people view their status (this is in spite of the huge absolute gains in per capita real income over this period).

He doesn’t provide (enough) details on his estimates (for me). But, he summarizes his results this way:

The last equation implies that from 1972-2012, achievement-corrected status fell by .14.  That's larger than the status gain people get when their income doubles.

Translated: people feel their status is lower in 2012 than in 1972, and you’d have to double the income of everyone to make them feel better about themselves.

Professionally, I’m not sure what to make of that result.

Personally, I think this solidifies the case that Americans increasingly have … ridiculous expectations.

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