How Much Income Did Age Groups Earn? Data in the US from 1962-2015

November 2nd, 2020 by 

In this post we've added an income per age group calculator which lets you graph the amount of income earned by age groups in the United States, for every year from 1962-2015.  We have seeded the calculator with some age groups, but as with some of our past calculators you're able to drag them around in the slider to chop up the population in different ways.

We won't let you lose your work, either - when you're happy with the results, export it to CSV and load it into your favorite spreadsheet program (or, hey, back into a stats package!).

(Got a big monitor? Grab the fullscreen view here: Fullscreen Incomes Earned by Age Group Calculator)

Other Calculators in this Series

I wrote originally explaining how to get IPUMS-CPS data into R and manipulate it. It's been a fruitful series; here's what else we've got (all examples are for 1962-2015):

I'll suggest it here: mashing this data up with these other calculators will show some very interesting changes and shifts in the landscape over the last 50+ years...

Using the United States Income per Age Group Calculator

Here's how to use the tool:

Tool Inputs

  • Year Range Slider - Move the sliders left and right to change the years in the age groups.
  • Breakdown Type - Pick 'relative' or 'absolute' percentages, then click the button to recalculate and redraw the chart.

Tool Commands & Output

  • Recalculate and Draw Chart - Recalculates based on the inputs... and draws the chart.
  • Reset - Reset to the original groups we picked.
  • Download Current to CSV - Outputs whatever you graphed last (make sure you hit the recalculate button!) into the calculator.
  • Remove all Age Ranges - Let's you start with a tabula rasa

Methodology and Source on the Income per Age Group Calculator

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.

You can see details on importing this data into R to export it to a spreadsheet.  We go into meticulous detail on how we created this dataset there and certainly answer all of your questions.  You can also download a spreadsheet there with the data in an easy to digest form.

Why Doesn't This Data Exactly Add Up to My Favorite Measure of Income?

A few reasons, but for completeness we'll mention the reasons we introduced first: we first screen the data for people who reported being 18+ years old and working at least one hour per week in the previous year.  That would remove income earned by younger teenagers and children (think small jobs and interest in accounts) as well as transfer payments to non-working segments of the population like retirees who only received transfer payments for one year.

A longer answer: the CPS treats income differently than other agencies.  It's too much to get into here, please read this article from Economists at the BEA and Census Bureau for more details on the CPS specificly.  For multiple measures used by the Government in general, this is a good piece from the IRS.

So, no, even though this data is for up to the 2014 total year (2015 survey data), you won't see total income quite at $15 trillion, as from the BEA's preferred measure.

Other Reading on Demographics

Simpson's Paradox.  Read about it if you haven't yet (assuming you found us through Google).

Since you're reading this far, I know you're interested in our work on similar lines. These two will get you started:

  • Net Worth by Age Calculator - Uses SCF data and lets you check an age versus a net worth - much more useful than comparing to aggregate data which includes all ages!
  • Income by Age Calculator - Income centiles don't mean much when you compare a 47 year old to a 22 year old - this calculator lets you compare incomes to others of a particular age.

You can find all our calculators and visualizations on this page.  Yeah, you should bookmark it.  I think we average a new calculator every 4-6 weeks (but they come in batches).

See anything interesting in the income per age group calculator?  Tell us about it below!



PK started DQYDJ in 2009 to research and discuss finance and investing and help answer financial questions. He's expanded DQYDJ to build visualizations, calculators, and interactive tools.

PK lives in New Hampshire with his wife, kids, and dog.

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