Finally, Scientific Proof of the Obvious

Via Dani Rodrik’s weblog…

When a Republican president is in power, people at the top of the income distribution experience much larger real income gains than those at the bottom–a difference of 1.5 percent per year going from the bottom to the top quintile in the income distribution. The situation is reversed when a Democrat is in power: those who benefit the most are the lower income groups. If you are in the bottom quintile, the difference between having a Democratic or a Republican president in office is an income gain (or loss) of more than 2 percent per year! Strikingly, compared to Republicans, Democratic presidents generate higher income gains for all income groups (although the difference is statistically significant only for lower income groups).


Rodrik goes on to ask what in my opinion is the quintessential question of modern American politics.

Bartels’ findings raise an important puzzle: if Democrats produce better income results for everyone, and particularly for the more numerous lower-income groups, why do they not always win?

There are many answers to this question, most of which I am sure would be correct, but the one that gets closest to the root cause has very much to do with ignorance.

Most Americans have absolutely no clue where they truly fit in the economic strata of this nation. I bet that if you polled the American public and asked them where they think they fit in the distribution of income that the majority would have no clue.

As a matter of fact, you know what would be helpful? an income distribution that shows exactly where $25,000 – $50,000 – 75,000 etc. fall.

Something like this.

Once people understand, really internalize not just comprehend, that 35% of individuals in the US fall into the bottom fifth (quintile), then and only then will they begin to vote their true economic interest.

2 Responses to “Finally, Scientific Proof of the Obvious”

  1. terry says:

    I’ve always wondered when candidates talk about the middle class, just who do they mean? Someone should ask them how much they think the middle class earn because I’m sure it will not match that chart above.

  2. jlo says:

    Interesting enough, but a fact it leaves out is that the “rich” bracket of american’s grew by 10% under W. The graph referenced shows the “rich” doing better, but fails to mention who the “rich” are and how many new “rich” were created.

    “Once people understand, really internalize not just comprehend, that 35% of individuals in the US fall into the bottom fifth (quintile), then and only then will they begin to vote their true economic interest.”

    If you earn less than $10,000, you are poor. If a family of four earns less than $21,000, they are poor. Yet according to the government census, poor households in America have lots of stuff. Ninety-seven percent have a color TV, 78 percent a DVD player, 80 percent an air conditioner, 73 percent a car or truck, 63 percent cable or satellite TV, and 43 percent of poor households in the USA own the home they are living in. Looks look at the big picture… compare our poor to that of Eastern Europe, Africa & the middle east. Better yet, put it up against any other industrialized nation and you will see the oppurtunities america provides to all still rank supreme over the nations that believe government should control wealth.

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