Trends in the Distribution of Household Income From 1979 to 2020
CBO regularly analyzes the distribution of income in the United States and how it has changed over time. This slide deck presents the distributions of household income, means-tested transfers, and federal taxes between 1979 and 2020.
This document provides details about the distributions of household income, means-tested transfers, and federal taxes from 1979 to 2020. During that period, households at the top of the income distribution received significantly more income than households at the bottom. Average income, both before and after means-tested transfers and federal taxes, grew for all quintiles (or fifths) of the income distribution, but it increased most among households in the highest quintile. Income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficients for income both before and after transfers and taxes, rose between 1979 and 2020. For more information on changes to income in 2020 and the effects of federal programs implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, see the companion report The Distribution of Household Income in 2020.