Distribution of New Wealth in US circa 2001

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Kennickell, Arthur B., “A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001” (November 2003). FEDS Working Paper No. 2003-24; Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 393. Available at SSRN: ssrn.com/abstract=427720 or DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.427720

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    14 Responses to Distribution of New Wealth in US circa 2001

    1. a) the title should be “…Net Wealth…”, not “…New Wealth…”. Makes it sound like some sort of Depression-Era government program.

      b) I see the disparity between the bottom 50% and the top 50% of earners, but there is no reason why any given person can’t change their level of wealth through the proper steps. Some are less advantaged than others, but that certainly does not keep them from getting a higher level of education than what is paid for by the state/local government. I challenge anyone to illustrate a circumstance wherein an individual cannot better their life. Yes there is racism and yes there is discrimination, but it is no longer pervasive enough to altogether prohibit people from bettering themselves.


    2. In 2006, the median annual US household income was $48,201.00. 19.26% of all households had annual incomes exceeding $100,000.
      In other words, if you want to get out of the bottom 50%, all you need to do is get a decent degree or learn a trade skill. Being in the top 20% is pretty easy, too, if you have a plan and work at it.


    3. Stats on “New Wealth” in the US would be interesting, too. I would bet that most people are in the in the same income bracket as their parents. It actually is difficult to figure out the right decisions to make at critical times in your life if you don’t have the right guidance.


    4. @reboot

      being in the top 2% isn’t as easy as you make it out to be…or else it wouldn’t be just 2%, would it?


    5. Top 2% isn’t easy, no, I never said that. Top 2% is a statistical outlier on a gaussian curve, so its almost a mathematical necessity to have some damn good luck.
      But I still stand by make actual statement, that getting into the to 20% is just a matter of hard work and not making any major fuck-ups (getting knock-up, going to prison, etc.)


    6. Reboot, I know we disagree alot but here I believe you are correct, sorry tiki. My own experience shows that without a major university degree it is possible for you can make a 6 figure salary by your forties (at least for me).

      It won’t be instant wealth, it takes time, which I think many younger people have a problem with. They may become disillusioned because they are not making “the big bucks” right away and get upset with the “system”.

      Kevin Spacey says it best in “Swimming With Sharks”, “Look, I can appreciate this. I was young too, I felt just like you. Hated authority, hated all my bosses, thought they were full of shit. Look, it’s like they say, if you’re not a rebel by the age of 20, you got no heart, but if you haven’t turned establishment by 30, you’ve got no brains. Because there are no story-book romances, no fairy-tale endings. So before you run out and change the world, ask yourself, “What do you really want?” “


    7. Getting to the top isn’t so easy. What is really being factored out of here, is everyone thinks this is really focusing on young 20 somethings. Are you going to tell a 50 year old man to go get a degree so he can get a better job? I really don’t foresee that, and even if 50 – 60 year olds, who are living on the bottom of the rungs, DO go get a degree, no big agencies or corporations are going to high him or her. Doesn’t happen, so that throws that out the window.

      If it was so easy, like you make it out, Gor, Reboot, then why are you guys on MCS, if it’s so easy, why aren’t you making $250k plus a year and driving a Porsche versus arguing on a message board?

      Sorry, but I refuse to believe this garbage of, “If you’re on the bottom of the rungs you have only yourself to blame.” I have friends who have worked their knuckles to the grinder to try to get up on the totem pole and never make it, and then known people who have never worked a day in their lives marry into some wealthy family who sticks them on the top of a big corp as a wonderful figurehead and puppet.

      I’m not saying that hard work doesn’t pay off, but there is always the right time, right place scenario for that, but hard work is NO guarantee of success.


    8. “What is really being factored out of here, is everyone thinks this is really focusing on young 20 somethings. Are you going to tell a 50 year old man to go get a degree so he can get a better job?”
      That’s one of the harsh facts of life: That if you’re not on the right track by the time you’re 30 (at the latest), there’s no much that can be done. Life is not a rehearsal, kids.

      “then why are you guys on MCS, if it’s so easy, why aren’t you making $250k plus a year and driving a Porsche versus arguing on a message board?”
      As I said, in my first post, $100k is the top 20%. That’s a target you can aim for with hard work. Anything beyond that does require a bit of luck.
      I’m 24, in grad school and my salary as a research assistant already puts me close to the 50th percentile line. If my gf moved in with me, our household income would be nearly in the top 20% already. Based on everyone else who has graduated from this department in the last 2 years, I should be in the top 20% when I graduate with or without a 2nd income in the household.
      Why am I on MCS? Because its a fun way to waste 5 minutes while a program is compiling, a script is running, etc.


    9. “If it was so easy, like you make it out, Gor, Reboot, then why are you guys on MCS, if it’s so easy, why aren’t you making $250k plus a year and driving a Porsche versus arguing on a message board?”

      1. My job leaves me with considerable amount of free time, so I use much of it enjoying Tiki’s fine website,

      2. I’m a recent enlisted military retiree and I first have to make $100,000 before I can get to $250,000 (but seriously, I’ll probable top out at about $125,000, which is fine for a man who spent most of his life as a poor enlisted guy).

      3. I might get a Porsche later, but I’m enjoying my new Mini Cooper as it is now.

      You are right, hard work is NO guarantee, but not working hard gives basically you no chance.

      So, Awful, are you just spouting of sour grapes because of your failure in life?


    10. the interesting thing is that most of the people, barring those at the very top, are simply on a faster treadmill. You’d be surprised how many of the middle class, and even the lower-upper class have poor money management skills and barely keep afloat. The true upper class have enough to be reasonably insulated from poor spending decisions / habits.

      Food for thought: is the guy who makes $40k a year who has his car paid off, His mortgage paid down and no credit card debt less fortunate than the guy who makes $250K a year, has a house he can barely afford and mountains of debt?

      And as far as the 2% goes: that’s 1 in 50, mathematically. 7,200,000 americans. Not the worst of odds. I’m captain liberal, and even I think that’s not the most exclusive of clubs. Do I think there’s a virtual aristocracy that’s almost impossible to join from the outside? Perhaps… but not even close to the 2% mark.


    11. BTW, wasting money on expensive toys, like Porsches, is exactly the kind of bad planning that makes poor people stay poor. As soon as they get a bit of cash, they blow it on bling instead of investing in themselves. I know people who are millionaires that drive used Fords. Warren Buffet lives in a modest $700,000 home in Omaha.


    12. ABSOLUTELY Reboot. Hell, my mini is our second car (we only have two total!). Every month my credit cards gets paid off full, the bills get paid, including my mortage (along with a couple hundred extra on the principal), I put money into my retirement funds and we still use coupons at the market.

      You are right to bring up Warren Buffet, he is a perfect example of fiscal discipline.


    13. Sorry for the typo in the title. New Wealth would be very interesting as well, but then you have to define “New” and thats well beyond my skill set.

      My mad excel skills come from P-chem, not econ.


    14. This is what happens when women make way too much of a big deal about penis size.


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