Inequality and Mobility over the Past Half Century Using the Synergistic Distributions of Income, Consumption and Wealth

Awarded Scholars:
David Johnson, University of Michigan
Jonathan Fisher, Stanford University
Project Date:
Apr 2018
Award Amount:

Inequality in income, consumption, and wealth have all been increasing, but some evidence indicates that increased inequality in the joint distribution of the three measures of economic wellbeing exceeds that of inequality in any of the single distributions. However, to date, no single dataset currently allows researchers to examine rising inequality in the three measures simultaneously over a long period of time. As a result, studies often examine inequality and mobility using income, consumption, or wealth separately, without reference to the other two. Having all three measures in a single dataset would allow one to analyze multi-dimensional inequality and mobility, for example, by comparing mobility in income and consumption by initial wealth quintile.  Professors David Johnson and Jonathan Fisher will build on their extensive research in this area and address this limitation using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a multigenerational longitudinal dataset that includes income for every survey year since 1968, along with measures of consumption and wealth since 1997. They will impute measures of consumption and wealth in all years of the PSID for which they are not currently available.


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