When the mean is greater than the median in a dataset, we say that the distribution of the data is **right skewed**.

This means there is a “tail” on the right side of the distribution:

**Note**: Sometimes a right skewed distribution is also referred to as a *positively skewed distribution*.

In a right skewed distribution, the mean is greater than the median:

**What Causes the Mean to be Greater than the Median?**

A distribution is typically right skewed when there is a limit on the minimum possible value but no limit on the maximum possible value.

One real-life example of a right skewed distribution is the distribution of income in a country.

The minimum income that a person could earn is zero dollars but there is no maximum income that a person could earn.

When we create a histogram to visualize the distribution of income, it will naturally be right skewed:

The mean is naturally greater than the median because the large values on the right “tail” of the distribution will greatly inflate the value of the mean.

As a simple example, suppose we have the following dataset that contains the income of 10 individuals:

**Dataset 1:** $30k, $35k, $35k, $40k, $50k, $55k, $55k, $70k, $90k, $110k

Here are the mean and median values of this dataset:

**Mean**: $57k**Median**: $52.5k

Now suppose we have another dataset that contains the exact same incomes except the last value is now $2.5 million:

**Dataset 2:** $30k, $35k, $35k, $40k, $50k, $55k, $55k, $70k, $90k, $2.5 million

Here are the mean and median values of this dataset:

**Mean**: $296k**Median**: $52.5k

This last outlier value causes the mean income to increase significantly.

And if we plot this distribution, it would be a right skewed histogram with the $2.5 million value located on the right “tail” of the histogram.

**Additional Resources**

The following tutorials provide additional information about skewed distributions:

Left Skewed vs. Right Skewed Distributions

5 Examples of Negatively Skewed Distributions

5 Examples of Positively Skewed Distributions