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Top Indian Incomes, 1922-2000

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Thomas Piketty

Abstract

This article presents data on the evolution of top incomes and wages for 1922--2000 in India using individual tax return data. The data show that the shares of the top 0.01 percent, 0.1 percent, and 1 percent in total income shrank substantially from the 1950s to the early to mid-1980s but then rose again, so that today these shares are only slightly below what they were in the 1920s and 1930s. This U-shaped pattern is broadly consistent with the evolution of economic policy in India: From the 1950s to the early to mid-1980s was a period of "socialist" policies in India, whereas the subsequent period, starting with the rise of Rajiv Gandhi, saw a gradual shift toward more probusiness policies. Although the initial share of the top income group was small, the fact that the rich were getting richer had a nontrivial impact on the overall income distribution. Although the impact is not large enough to fully explain the gap observed during the 1990s between average consumption growth shown in National Sample Survey--based data and the national accounts--based data, it is sufficiently large to explain a nonnegligible part of it (20--40 percent). Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 19 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-20

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:19:y:2005:i:1:p:1-20

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Cited by:
  1. Basu, Kaushik, 2005. "Globalization, Poverty and Inequality: What Is the Relationship? What Can Be Done?," Working Papers 05-13, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  2. Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Ravallion, Martin, 2008. "Global poverty and inequality : a review of the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4623, The World Bank.
  3. Sandrine Mesplé-Somps & Charlotte Guénard, 2006. "Measuring Inequalities: Do The Surveys Give The Real Picture? Study Of Two Surveys In Cote D’Ivoire And Madagascar," Working Papers 18, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  4. Sambit Bhattacharyya & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2013. "Distributional Impact of Commodity Price Shocks: Australia over a Century," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  5. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 39-82, March.
  6. Mehta, Aashish & Mohr, Belinda Acuña, 2012. "Economic Liberalization and Rising College Premiums in Mexico: A Reinterpretation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1908-1920.
  7. A B Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2010. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Five Anglo-Saxon Countries over the Twentieth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 640, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00588318 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Milanovic, Branko, 2014. "The return of"patrimonial capitalism": review of Thomas Piketty's capital in the 21st century," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6974, The World Bank.
  10. Anukriti, S, 2014. "The Fertility-Sex Ratio Trade-off: Unintended Consequences of Financial Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 8044, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Ross Finnie & Ian Irvine, 2006. "Mobility and Gender at the Top Tail of the Earnings Distribution," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 37(2), pages 149-173.
  12. Pinkovskiy, Maxim L., 2014. "World welfare is rising: estimation using nonparametric bounds on welfare measures," Staff Reports 662, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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