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CMU Creates Map To Track Wealth

Anyone can travel through 100 years of income history of 29 countries thanks to a new website created at Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab.

Explorable inequality is a website we just released that allows anyone to slide through time and zoom into any number of the countries for which we have tax data, and understand how the difference in income has been changing between the very richest and everyone else in society,” said director of the CREATE Lab, Illah Nourbakhsh.

The website compares countries simultaneously, or users have the option to look at countries individually as well. When looking at the United States Nourbakhsh says it is easy to see the disproportion.

“Australia and New Zealand have developed very well, but they have far less inequality than we do here in the US. Even Canada has much less. So it kind of begs the questions, what it is about our structure that allows us to make the very richest, richer much faster than these other countries do,” says Nourbakhsh.

According to Nourbakhsh, after World War II the top 1 percent of the working population earned 8 percent of the total income in the US.  Over the last four decades, this has grown to 20 percent of the total income. This means that for every person in the 1 percent (2 million people) they make as much as 33 people from the bottom 99 percent.

The website took the team about five days to build because of the technology the CREATE Lab has been developing.

The website also utilized data that was used to write the book “Capital in the 21st Centruy”, a #1 best seller by Thomas Piketty. The book goes into more detail about the income disparities and how they came about and how they might never go away,  while the website gives you the instant data.

Nourbakhsh said that soon they hope to add mortgage default rates and income for the individual states and counties in the United States.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.
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