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A Note on Income Data

This letter appearing in today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal makes a good point:

Mr. [Alan] Reynolds [in an October 25 WSJ article] uses the term “individual” income several times when explaining the top 1% of income earners, and therein lies his problem. If only the IRS taxed me and my working wife based on our “individual” income we would save several thousands of dollars per year. The problem is that both taxes and the statistics are based on “household” income, which is really a euphemism for “marriage” income. If the statistics were based purely on “individual” income, I’m sure the wage disparity would not be that much worse today as when Ward and June Cleaver were raising the Beaver.

What’s happened is that women entered the workforce and in the past few decades educated women have had their incomes match or even exceed that of men. Educated and upper income people have a tendency to marry one another. And because lower-income people are less likely to be married than upper-income individuals, the statistics are skewed even more. To have an honest discussion on this subject you first have to start out with honest statistics.

Steve Walde
Easton, Conn.