This paper uses new methods to determine the sources of the sharp fall and then the steep rise in personal income inequality between 1959 and 1989. The increase in the proportion of single-head families tended to boost inequality over the entire period. Forty percent of the reduction in income inequality in the 1960s occurred because of the decline in earnings inequality among male heads of families; more than one-third of the increase in inequality after 1969 occurred because inequality in male earnings soared. Since 1979 females' gains in earnings have increased inequality because these gains have been concentrated increasingly in families with high incomes.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.