Income Distribution and Macroeconomic Performance in the United States


Jeffrey D. Cole ; Christopher M Towe

Publication Date:

August 1, 1996

Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


The factors underlying the rise in U.S. income inequality since the mid-1970s are examined. The results suggest that the trend increase in income inequality has not been related to macroeconomic developments, such as income growth or import penetration, but that the income distribution is sensitive to the cycle. Important factors that do help explain the widening of the income distribution include the increased investment in technology and the decline in the minimum wage. The rise in the share of single female-headed households, the increased proportion of households headed by someone over the age of 35, and the fall in the child-dependency ratio also help explain movements in income shares.


Working Paper No. 1996/097



Publication Date:

August 1, 1996



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