Should-Read: Nancy Folbre: Why current definitions of family income are misleading, and why this matters for measures of inequality: “Researchers studying income distribution in the United States seem reluctant to acknowledge the family as an important unit of production and distribution… http://equitablegrowth.org/research-analysis/why-current-definitions-of-family-income-are-misleading-and-why-this-matters-for-measures-of-inequality/
…Incomplete definitions of both family and income either obscure or render invisible transfers between and within households, including the value of housework and family care. Evidence from specialized surveys—such as the Health and Retirement Survey, the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, and the American Time Use Survey—clearly demonstrate the quantitative relevance of these omissions….
Overall, such transfers may have an equalizing effect because they generally flow from those with more market income to those with less. But young white adults are more likely to receive transfers from relatively affluent parents, while young black adults are more likely to transfer income to those closer to the bottom of distribution….
Changes in the family economy of the United States have probably had only small effects on the relative income of the top 1 percent or the top 5 percent. They have larger implications for both the reality and the perception of relative income among households with divergent patterns of female labor-force participation and family responsibility…