I have two questions about inequality: 1) how much of the measured inequality changes in recent decades has been due to shifts to the top .1% from elsewhere in the top 10%? 2) what is the propensity to donate to charity as wealth increases?

This is apropos yesterdays story about Mark Zuckerburg, Carl Icahn, and others joining Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in their pledge to give half of their wealth to charities. Stories like this make me wonder whether higher inequality is, or is going to, lead to more charity, which by containing transfers and spending on poor families actually mitigates the measured inequality.

By also utilizing economies of scale and overcoming coordination problems, it seems possible at least that inequality like this could make poor families better off. This could be the case even if the initial inequality was a redistribution from the bottom 99.9% to the top 0.1%, rather than from the top 10% to the top 0.1%.

There may be data that prove this completely false, but it’s food for thought anyway.