Any student, researcher, or #OWS protestor interested in income distribution and income growth should definitely be aware of this resource: The World’s Top Incomes Database. (hat tip to Krugman, from whom I learned about it). It’s a very powerful database combined with a very easy to use interface that allows you to extract exactly the data you want as a spreadsheet (see the Database tab) or to customize your own graphs.
You can pick from a growing list countries -over 25 already and more under development. It’s particularly interesting because it’s not just the usual developed nation suspects. There’s also data on developing countries and some less-developed nations. Then you can pick your time series and variables. It’s a tremendous variety: share of national income by the top x% (without or with capital gains). In some case, data series are available on actual average real incomes by percentile groups. What’s also nice is that they don’t just leave it at a split between the top 1% and the bottom 90%. You can specify the top 1%, 5%, 10%, 0.1% or even the 0.01%. Amazing. You pick the time frame from early in the 20th century up to 2008. Then you regenerate your graph or data table. The best part is that by right clicking on the graph, you can download and save the graph. Students: are you listening? Understand the implications for research papers?