Question: How Much Income Does A Household Need To Be In Top 1%?

Nov 09, 2016
Interactive, Behavioral Finance, Career, Question of the Day, WebQuest, Current Events, Chart of the Week, Audio Resource, Math

A good interactive from CNN to stimulate discussion in your classroom and infuse some math too (hat tip to a teacher at JumpStart National Conference who pointed this out to me; sorry that I didn’t catch his name:). As you move the slider bar on the left, the point of the graph moves up to show the percentile ranking:


  • Questions:
    • What does the shape of the curve tell you about income distribution in the U.S.?
    • What are the income ranges that would put a household in the middle half of this graph (from the 25th to 75th percentile)?
    • What does it take to be in the top 5%, top 1%?
    • What is one weakness of this graph? (Doesn’t account for differences in cost of living of a given region and happiness factor)
    • How does looking at income this way impact how you might think about setting financial goals for yourself?
    • If you were to overlay a happiness factor on this chart, do you think there is a relationship between where a household falls on the curve and their overall level happiness? Why or why not?
    • Do a webquest to answer this question:
      • “What is considered household income by the Census Bureau?”  Are you surprised by what is included?
      • What is the relationship between household income and happiness? How much do you need to earn to be happy?
        • Do you agree with the research findings you discovered?


    Here are some additional NGPF Blog posts about the relationship between money and happiness:

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.