How Much Did Generations Earn? Income by Generation from 1962-2015

November 2nd, 2020 by 

In this post there is an income by generation calculator which will let you see earned income by generation in the workforce from 1962-2015.  As Generations don't always have a fully agreed-upon beginning and end (to say the least), you have the ability to change the generational boundaries.

When you're done defining generations as you please, output your result to CSV and bring it back into your own spreadsheet program to make your own adjustments - and see interesting things we didn't!

(Got a big monitor? Like we did for the others in this series, click here for a fullscreen view: Fullscreen Incomes Earned by Generation Calculator)

Other Calculators in this Series

These calculators all started from the same dataset, which you can find explored in painstaking detail in a post I wrote explaining how to get IPUMS-CPS data into R and manipulate it.  Here is what we've done with that dataset (all examples are for 1962-2015):

Mash up the data with this one with some of the others and you'll have some fuel for some extra hot think pieces.

Why did You Pick These Years Start and End?

I already defended it in the post on the makeup of the workforce by generation calculator, please check out the dates and the justification there.

Then, obviously, argue with our choices anyway.  (Or just move the slider.  That's why it's there!).

Why Doesn't This Match The Total Income Earned Data from <Your Source>?

I discussed this in the last piece, please take a look if you're interested.

Using the United States Income by Generation Calculator

Here's how to use the tool:

Tool Inputs

  • Year Range Slider - Move the sliders left and right to change when you think generations begin and end.  Use the reset button to start over with 0 generations. NOTE, AS BEFORE: leave a one year gap between generations because the calculator years are inclusive.
  • Breakdown Type - Pick 'relative' or 'absolute' percentages, then click the button to recalculate and redraw the chart.

Tool Commands & Output

  • Recalculate and Draw Chart - I think you can guess.
  • Reset - Works the same as reloading the page - it uses our choice of generational years.
  • Download Current to CSV - Don't lose your work - download the data in CSV form and go do your own manipulations (or combine it with other calculators in the series?  Your own data?)
  • Remove all Generations - If it's too far gone, nuke the generations in the tool and start from scratch.

Methodology and Source for the Income by Generation 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.

Other Reading on Demographics and Scaling for a Changing Workforce

It's one of our most expounded upon themes now, but I hope you understand why we care so much about adjusting data for demographic changes.  Things as disparate as immigration, training, and education can completely reshape how a statistic looks - a phenomenon known as Simpson's Paradox.

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

  • Net Worth by Age Calculator - Uses SCF 2013 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.

On other topics? You can find all our calculators and visulizations on this page. Bookmark it.

Let us know what you see that requires further study!  Did you enjoy the income by generation calculator.



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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