It is becoming increasingly clear that the United States passed through some kind of fork in the economic road in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and has now landed on onto an evolutionary pathway toward some kind of decline. The questions of what interplay of chance and necessity created the turning movement in the pathway of socio-economic evolution, how enduring that new pathway is, or where it is leading no one can answer; but with the advantage of hindsight, it is becoming empirically clear that most of the adverse economic trends of de-industrialization, deregulation, increasing debt, a collapsing trade balance, the stagnation of real wages, rising income inequality, etc., took a systemic turn for the worse during the five years between 1977 and 1982.
Attached are two reports (in pdf format) on one aspect of anatomy of decline: rising income inequality. They build on the seminal research (which can be downloaded here and here) of Professors Emanuel Saez’s (Univ. of Calif. Berkeley) and Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics), which quantified and analyzed the size, nature, and effects of rising income inequality in the United States.
The first report has been prepared by the democratic majority staff of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress and therefore may be discounted by some as partisan — to those readers inclined to dismiss this report, I suggest that they compare its results of the Saez-Piketty analyses before jumping to any conclusions.
The second report is a non partisan analysis produced by Frank Levy and Peter Temlin of Industrial Performance Center of MIT.
Reference A: The Senate Report (2010)
Reference B: The MIT Report (2007)