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A Calculator: Income Distribution by Age for 2015 in the United States

August 22nd, 2020 by 
PK

In this article, we present 2015 United States data in an income percentile by age calculator to show income brackets for every age from 18-80, and age 85.

It is from the Current Population Survey, in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement, known as the ASEC.  That means this data is for income earned between January 2014 and December 2014 (collected in early 2015, and released in late 2015).  It includes all forms of income - not just salary and bonuses, but everything listed here.  The population is every respondent who worked more than one hour per week in 2014.  That me

We also have a calculator which can give you net worth by age.  For the 2014 archived version of this calculator, please click here.  For the 2013 archived version of this calculator, please click here.

Source on the Income Percentile by Age Calculator

We downloaded the CPS microdata from the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Population Center’s IPUMS-CPS site.

Miriam King, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.

Why Are You Splitting Up Incomes By Age?

In short: most income (and net worth) numbers in the financial press are quoted without a mention of demographic changes which may lead people to wrong interpretations of key statistics.  (We have discussed the very similar Simpson's Paradox often here on DQYDJ.)

Income percentile by age calculator: picture of a clock with money on it

Income percentile by age is the proper comparison - time has quite an effect on incomes and salaries!

Here's what I'm implying: if you have a workforce which is skewed heavily towards older, more experienced workers (like, say, Baby Boomers) which is being refreshed with younger, less experienced worked (like, say, Millennials), you would expect to have income trends looking worse than they actually are.  We explicitly targeted this effect in some articles from this year, and it is because of that we release calculators like this one.

Longer: we built an income percentile by age calculator because of a simple point: experience often leads to greater incomes, and 'time out of education or training' is one very good proxy of experience.  Age is slightly worse, but is easily accessible - but the fact remains that it's very misleading for a 20-something to compare her salary to a 40-something executive.  By splitting age groups as we've done here, we make the comparison more fair - you're looking at people answering the survey with their tax data fresh in their minds, and it's more accurate than just asking people and gathering anecdotes.

Back to short again: this method of comparison is more fair than just comparing against everyone in the country.  If you disagree, though, we've obviously got an income percentile calculator for the United States ready for you already, anyway!

Here are a couple posts which we've done recently adjusting for age and income status as it has changed since the great Recession:

Enjoy the income percentile by age calculator!

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