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Top Incomes in the Long Run of History

A recent literature has constructed top income shares time series over the long run for more than twenty countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very significant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth pe... Full description

Journal Title: Journal of Economic Literature 2011-03-01, Vol.49 (1), p.3-71
Main Author: Atkinson, Anthony B
Other Authors: Piketty, Thomas , Saez, Emmanuel
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
Publisher: Nashville: American Economic Association
ID: ISSN: 0022-0515
Link: https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00754557
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recordid: cdi_hal_shs_oai_HAL_halshs_00754557v1
title: Top Incomes in the Long Run of History
format: Article
creator:
  • Atkinson, Anthony B
  • Piketty, Thomas
  • Saez, Emmanuel
subjects:
  • 20th century
  • Avoidance
  • Capital gains
  • Capital income
  • China
  • classement
  • Consumers
  • croissance économique
  • Demography
  • Distribution
  • Economic growth
  • Economic History
  • Economic models
  • Economic theory
  • Economics
  • Economics and Finance
  • Economies
  • Economies et finances
  • Education
  • Empirical research
  • Equity
  • Estimated taxes
  • Estimating techniques
  • Finance
  • finances
  • General
  • Health
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • impôt sur le revenu
  • Income
  • Income distribution
  • Income estimates
  • Income inequality
  • Income shares
  • Income tax
  • Income taxes
  • India
  • Inequality
  • International
  • inégalité
  • Justice
  • Labor
  • Laws, regulations and rules
  • long terme
  • Measurement
  • Microeconomics
  • National income accounts
  • or Comparative
  • Other Normative Criteria
  • Personal Income
  • Philanthropy
  • Public Economics
  • Religion
  • Research
  • revenu
  • Revenue
  • Social Sciences
  • Studies
  • Subsidies
  • Tax collection
  • Tax Evasion
  • Tax rates
  • Taxation
  • Their Distributions
  • Time series
  • Wealth
  • Welfare
  • Welfare Economics
  • World wars
ispartof: Journal of Economic Literature, 2011-03-01, Vol.49 (1), p.3-71
description: A recent literature has constructed top income shares time series over the long run for more than twenty countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very significant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth per capita and Gini inequality indexes are sensitive to excluding or including top incomes. We discuss the estimation methods and issues that arise when constructing top income share series, including income definition and comparability over time and across countries, tax avoidance, and tax evasion. We provide a summary of the key empirical findings. Most countries experience a dramatic drop in top income shares in the first part of the twentieth century in general due to shocks to top capital incomes during the wars and depression shocks. Top income shares do not recover in the immediate postwar decades. However, over the last thirty years, top income shares have increased substantially in English speaking countries and in India and China but not in continental European countries or Japan. This increase is due in part to an unprecedented surge in top wage incomes. As a result, wage income comprises a larger fraction of top incomes than in the past. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and empirical models that have been proposed to account for the facts and the main questions that remain open.
language: eng
source:
identifier: ISSN: 0022-0515
fulltext: no_fulltext
issn:
  • 0022-0515
  • 2328-8175
url: Link


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descriptionA recent literature has constructed top income shares time series over the long run for more than twenty countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very significant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth per capita and Gini inequality indexes are sensitive to excluding or including top incomes. We discuss the estimation methods and issues that arise when constructing top income share series, including income definition and comparability over time and across countries, tax avoidance, and tax evasion. We provide a summary of the key empirical findings. Most countries experience a dramatic drop in top income shares in the first part of the twentieth century in general due to shocks to top capital incomes during the wars and depression shocks. Top income shares do not recover in the immediate postwar decades. However, over the last thirty years, top income shares have increased substantially in English speaking countries and in India and China but not in continental European countries or Japan. This increase is due in part to an unprecedented surge in top wage incomes. As a result, wage income comprises a larger fraction of top incomes than in the past. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and empirical models that have been proposed to account for the facts and the main questions that remain open.
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languageeng
publisherNashville: American Economic Association
subject20th century ; Avoidance ; Capital gains ; Capital income ; China ; classement ; Consumers ; croissance économique ; Demography ; Distribution ; Economic growth ; Economic History ; Economic models ; Economic theory ; Economics ; Economics and Finance ; Economies ; Economies et finances ; Education ; Empirical research ; Equity ; Estimated taxes ; Estimating techniques ; Finance ; finances ; General ; Health ; History ; Humanities ; Humanities and Social Sciences ; impôt sur le revenu ; Income ; Income distribution ; Income estimates ; Income inequality ; Income shares ; Income tax ; Income taxes ; India ; Inequality ; International ; inégalité ; Justice ; Labor ; Laws, regulations and rules ; long terme ; Measurement ; Microeconomics ; National income accounts ; or Comparative ; Other Normative Criteria ; Personal Income ; Philanthropy ; Public Economics ; Religion ; Research ; revenu ; Revenue ; Social Sciences ; Studies ; Subsidies ; Tax collection ; Tax Evasion ; Tax rates ; Taxation ; Their Distributions ; Time series ; Wealth ; Welfare ; Welfare Economics ; World wars
ispartofJournal of Economic Literature, 2011-03-01, Vol.49 (1), p.3-71
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020th century
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2Capital gains
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4China
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6Consumers
7croissance économique
8Demography
9Distribution
10Economic growth
11Economic History
12Economic models
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16Economies
17Economies et finances
18Education
19Empirical research
20Equity
21Estimated taxes
22Estimating techniques
23Finance
24finances
25General
26Health
27History
28Humanities
29Humanities and Social Sciences
30impôt sur le revenu
31Income
32Income distribution
33Income estimates
34Income inequality
35Income shares
36Income tax
37Income taxes
38India
39Inequality
40International
41inégalité
42Justice
43Labor
44Laws, regulations and rules
45long terme
46Measurement
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48National income accounts
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51Personal Income
52Philanthropy
53Public Economics
54Religion
55Research
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58Social Sciences
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62Tax Evasion
63Tax rates
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68Welfare
69Welfare Economics
70World wars
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020th century
1Avoidance
2Capital gains
3Capital income
4China
5classement
6Consumers
7croissance économique
8Demography
9Distribution
10Economic growth
11Economic History
12Economic models
13Economic theory
14Economics
15Economics and Finance
16Economies
17Economies et finances
18Education
19Empirical research
20Equity
21Estimated taxes
22Estimating techniques
23Finance
24finances
25General
26Health
27History
28Humanities
29Humanities and Social Sciences
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32Income distribution
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39Inequality
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52Philanthropy
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58Social Sciences
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60Subsidies
61Tax collection
62Tax Evasion
63Tax rates
64Taxation
65Their Distributions
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67Wealth
68Welfare
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abstractA recent literature has constructed top income shares time series over the long run for more than twenty countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very significant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth per capita and Gini inequality indexes are sensitive to excluding or including top incomes. We discuss the estimation methods and issues that arise when constructing top income share series, including income definition and comparability over time and across countries, tax avoidance, and tax evasion. We provide a summary of the key empirical findings. Most countries experience a dramatic drop in top income shares in the first part of the twentieth century in general due to shocks to top capital incomes during the wars and depression shocks. Top income shares do not recover in the immediate postwar decades. However, over the last thirty years, top income shares have increased substantially in English speaking countries and in India and China but not in continental European countries or Japan. This increase is due in part to an unprecedented surge in top wage incomes. As a result, wage income comprises a larger fraction of top incomes than in the past. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and empirical models that have been proposed to account for the facts and the main questions that remain open.
copNashville
pubAmerican Economic Association
doi10.1257/jel.49.1.3
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