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How Two Economists Got Direct Access to IRS Tax Records

Stashed in: Economics!, Awesome, Economics, Freakonomics, Demographics, Data is beautiful., Millennials

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Two of the hottest young economists in the world right now got their groundbreaking results largely by being willing to do whatever it took to get access to IRS data -- including basically becoming part-time IRS employees!

Remarkable dedication to getting the data.

The researchers began by examining tax returns filed in 1996. They identified a core sample of nearly 10 million children born between 1980 and 1982 (14- to 16-year-olds). The researchers then tracked the children until approximately age 30 and compared their family incomes with those of their parents. They calculated the parent’s income by averaging total family income over 5 years, from 1996 to 2000; for the adult children, they measured income in 2011 to 12. The team then ranked the incomes of both parents and adult children in relation to their peers and divided each group into quintiles. In a last step designed to tease out geographical differences in mobility, they assigned the children to the city in which they were living at age 16; in all, they study included 731 localities spanning the entire country.

Middle class is shrinking:

More recently Raj Chetty published this astounding work on the eroding of the American Dream:

Inequality Is Killing The American Dream | FiveThirtyEight

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