Most of the debate around rising inequality centers on income. The One Percent, we're told, has more of the nation's income today than ever before.
But it's equally instructive to look at wealth in addition to income. While incomes are volatile and fleeting, wealth is more enduring.
A new study shows that America's so-called wealth gap is actually narrower than it was 15 years ago. And most of the growth in wealth inequality occurred in the 1980s – not in the 2000s.
A National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Edward N. Wolff, a New York University professor and one of the leading U.S. experts on wealth shares, shows that in 1998, the richest one percent of Americans owned 38.1 percent of the nation's wealth. It has fallen fairly steadily since then to the current level of 35.4 percent.