Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Portrait of Inequality

Economists spend a lot of time thinking about inequality, because of all the effects it has on society: life expectancy, disease rates, crime, happiness, social cohesion, and economic incentives. As a group, economists often fail to make numbers come alive (if you want to see someone who can make graphs more interesting than anyone try googling Hans Rosling). But I found this exerpt from The Economist to be especially interesting and informative:
Jan Pen, a Dutch economist who died last year, came up with a striking way to picture inequality. Imagine people’s height being proportional to their income, so that someone with an average income is of average height. Now imagine that the entire adult population of America is walking past you in a single hour, in ascending order of income.

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