A survey, the findings, and a tweet about income | The Numbers Racket
When asked what they thought the average American worker makes per year, 25% of the Wharton School students surveyed believed it to be more than $100K per-year, with one student responding that they thought it was $800K
This week’s edition of the Numbers Racket comes from an unlikely place – Twitter.
If you’re still reading this, here’s why:
On Jan. 19, 2022 Nina Strohminger, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School tweeted that she conducted a survey of her students. Its findings were shocking, leading to a full-blown viral Twitter discussion about income inequality.
I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures. One of them thought it was $800k. Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k)
— Nina Strohminger (@NinaStrohminger) January 20, 2022
When asked what they thought the average American worker makes per year, 25 percent of the Wharton School students surveyed believed it to be more than $100,000 per year, with one student responding that they thought it was $800,000.
According to a September 2021 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Median household income of Americans in 2020 was $67,521. A 2.9 percent decrease from the previous year’s media of $69,560.
While the median household income decreased in 2020, the national poverty rate climbed a percentage point from 10.5 percent in 2019 to 11.4 percent.
In 2020, 37.2 million people were living in poverty in the United States, according to the report.
Additionally, the median household income among white, Hispanic, Black and Asian Americans decreased over the year.
White Americans saw their median household income of $71,231 decrease by 2.6 percent.
Black Americans saw their median household income of $45,870 decrease by 0.3 percent.
Asian Americans saw their median household income of $94,903 decrease by 4.5 percent.
And Hispanic Americans saw their median household income of $55,321 decrease by 2.6 percent.
In Philadelphia, the city in which the Wharton School resides, reported a median household income of $45,927 in 2019, according to Census Bureau data.
In response to the survey results, many Twitter users weighed in on what might be the cause of the off-base figure.
“Why is it surprising?” one user wrote. “Imagine spending your entire life around people who make well over 100K right out of school. I’m surprised only 25% believed this.”
Others suggested age and life experience might be a factor.
They’re young people. Did you know what the median household income was when you were 25 or 30?” asked one user. “Ask *all* Americans this question, and many will think it’s over 100K.”
Still, Strohminger has her own thoughts about how students arrived at their conclusions.
“A lot of people want to conclude that this says something special about Wharton students— I’m not sure it does,” Strohminger wrote on Twitter last month. “People are notoriously bad at making this kind of estimate, thinking the gap between rich and poor is smaller than it is.”
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