Is there any paper that looks at the distribution of wages? I'd like to see how many workers are in each percentile of labor income. I know that you could compute it using CPS or US tax data, but I suppose somebody must have done that before..

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1% of workers are in each percentile kinda by definition, no? :) $\endgroup$ – Jason Nichols Dec 4 '14 at 19:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, I stated it completely (but consistently) the wrong way. I phrased the percentiles as labor income :/ $\endgroup$ – FooBar Dec 4 '14 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Do you want to know total income earned (yearly) or do you want to know the distribution of earning power (like, distribution of hourly wages---or hours worked in combination with income)? Could you clarify? $\endgroup$ – jmbejara Dec 4 '14 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ The former is sufficient. However, I guess the latter is more informative, so more information always beats less information (also for future visitors of this question). $\endgroup$ – FooBar Dec 4 '14 at 19:58

Based on the 2010 US Census, Wikipedia has pretty much exactly what you seem to be looking for.

A sample graph:

enter image description here

though they of course also have tables and links to more data.

Or if you prefer raw data, the IRS SOI is available for 1996-2012.

And of course there's Piketty and Saez seminal paper on the subject (See Table 5 for their data analogous to the included Wikipedia picture)

And of course there's the BLS which publishes these things regularly by demographic, hourly only, or occupation/industry.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ It could be that the OP is looking for wages rather than income (like, hourly wages versus total yearly income earned). $\endgroup$ – jmbejara Dec 4 '14 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ could be, though would one not normally just divide by 2000 for US data? $\endgroup$ – Jason Nichols Dec 4 '14 at 19:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No, because you don't know how many hours each individual worked (not average hours worked, I mean how many hours each individual worked). The question is important if you want to know something akin to the distribution of skill---or at least earning power---in the population. $\endgroup$ – jmbejara Dec 4 '14 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ that's problematic because high skill workers in the US are almost often (if not predominantly) salaried. Though you might be able to use the BLS data I just added for some of that. $\endgroup$ – Jason Nichols Dec 4 '14 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. Thanks. Yeah, problematic to find/estimate the figures, but still important to know. (I'm thinking about Mirrlees optimal taxation again.) $\endgroup$ – jmbejara Dec 4 '14 at 19:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.