CK Prahalad’s book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid has firmly established our visual impression of how incomes are distributed as a pyramid. A strong, solid structure with the poorest at the bottom that slowly tapers, kind of holding up the apex.
In reality it looks NOTHING like a pyramid. Here’s a 3D visualization of what it looks like based on real income distributions.
Of course, if I had a lot of time on my hands I’d figure out how to plot it in 3D a lot better, maybe starting with a square shape rather than a circle so it compares better to a pyramid. But I don’t. You get the picture though. (To get more of a sense for what income distributions are like check out my earlier posts Who Cares about the Average Income and Income Distributions around the World).
Rather than put my take on the different impressions and associations you get from these pictures, I’m really curious to hear yours. What are the associations you get from this over the pyramid? I think that we need a different term to replace the ubiquitously used ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’.