Teaching Income Inequality with Data-Driven Visualization

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The distribution of household income is a central concern in economics due to its strong influence on society’s well-being and social cohesion. Yet, non-expert audiences face serious obstacles in understanding conventional measures of inequality. To effectively communicate the extent of income inequality in the United States, we have developed a novel technique for visualizing income distribution and its dispersion over time by using U.S. household income microdata from the Current Population Survey. The result is a striking dynamic animation of income distribution over time, drawing public attention, and encouraging further investigation of income inequality. Detailed implementation is available at github.com/sangttruong/incomevis. An interactive demonstration of our project is available at research.depauw.edu/econ/incomevis.