Wealth: How Does the U.S. Slice the Pie?

BY Paul Solman  August 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM EST

Photo by flickr user sciondriver.
Update: Watch Land of the Free, Home of the Poor and Americans Facing More Inequality, More Debt and Now More Trouble? to see the first two parts of Paul Solman’s ongoing series of reports on U.S. economic inequality.

Editor’s Note: For a pair of upcoming pieces for the NewsHour, we’re looking at economic inequality in the United States. You can watch For one of the stories, we recreated experiments conducted by psychologists Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of the Harvard Business School, based on pie charts representing various levels of wealth distribution. In one experiment, they asked people to identify wealth distribution in the U.S. In another, they asked people to choose which society they would prefer to live in. We replicated the surveys ourselves in New York City recently – you’ll see the results in the first broadcast piece. Here, you can take the survey yourself.

These pie charts represent the distribution of wealth in three different places. Each slice of the pie chart represents the proportion of wealth held by one fifth of the population in the country: the yellow slice, by the wealthiest fifth; the blue slice by the next wealthiest, down to the red slice, which represents the poorest fifth, in terms of wealth.


Country A:


Country B:


Country C:

To see which nations the pie charts actually represent, click here.