Income Size Distributions in the United States

Income Size Distributions in the United States

Income Size Distributions in the United States

Income Size Distributions in the United States

Excerpt

Since its formation, the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth has considered one of its major objectives to be the improvement of basic data on income and its distribution. In this connection the Conference has cooperated in various studies and has been responsible for the initiation of others. Because the need for more data was especially pressing in the field of the distribution of personal income by size, the Conference has centered attention on this field.

The past decade has seen considerable progress in the collection and tabulation of primary data on the distribution of personal income by size. As data have multiplied, it has become increasingly difficult for students in the field to become acquainted with the various sources without extensive and time-consuming research. It has also become increasingly clear that the failure to coordinate the various studies made the data far less useful than they would otherwise be. The common pattern imposed by a concern with personal income has been overshadowed by differences in concepts, coverage, and methods of tabulation and presentation. As a result the whole is little more than the sum of its parts.

The Conference therefore initiated in 1938 the preparation of a handbook for the more important recent studies of the distribution of personal income by size, with a twofold purpose: first, to make available in convenient form a fairly detailed description of the various bodies of data; second, to form a basis for proposals designed to coordinate future studies in the field. The preparation of this survey was placed in the hands of a committee consisting of Milton Friedman, Chairman; Dorothy Brady; Clark Warburton; and C. Lowell Harriss, Secretary.

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