This Chart Shows How Rich People Make Their Money Totally Differently From Everyone Else

Last night, Justin Wolfers Tweeted a chart from Visualising Economics’ Catherine Mulbrandon showing Lorenz curves by income source: labour, capital, business and capital gains.

It basically shows that different parts of the population get their income way differently than others — and that the top 20% gets at least half of all income types. It also shows that the rich account for the overwhelming majority of all capital gains income in the country, and that everyone else fights for the scraps.

Here’s what we’re looking at:


  • The bottom 60% of the population has access to about 25% of all income generated through labour
  • The next 20% gets it’s own slice of about 25% of labour income
  • And the top 20% of the population owns 50% of labour income

Next up is business and capital, which have about the same curve shape:

  • The “bottom” 80% of the population has to fight over 20% of income generated through business and capital
  • The top 20% of the population enjoys the “remaining” 80% of business and capital income
  • The top 20% of the population owns about 95% of income generated through capital gains
  • 80% of the population gets the rest

Here’s the chart:

What’s even scarier is that this data is from
2007 CBO data— the Great Recession is likely to have made these curves even steeper.

We are living in a highly unequal society.

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