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From Bottom to Top: The Entire Distribution of Market Income in Germany, 1992-2001

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  • Bach, Stefan
  • Corneo, Giacomo
  • Steiner, Viktor

Abstract

We analyze the distribution and concentration of market incomes in Germany in the period 1992 to 2001 on the basis of an integrated data set of individual tax returns and the German Socio-Economic Panel. The unique feature of this integrated data set is that it encompasses the whole spectrum of the population, from the very poor to the very rich. We find a modest increase in overall inequality of market incomes as measured by the Gini coefficient. However, we also document a substantial drop of median income and a remarkable income growth at the top 0.1% of the income distribution. The increase of income inequality was stronger in East Germany than in West Germany. In both regions, the income concentration process strongly benefited the economic elite, which we define as the richest 0.001% persons in the population. While the elite mainly obtains its income from business and capital, the income share that it receives in form of wage income is increasing.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6251.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6251

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Keywords: income distribution; inequality;

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  1. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2005. "Where did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Franz, Wolfgang & Steiner, Viktor, 1999. "Wages in the East German transition process: facts and explanations," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-40, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  3. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective," NBER Working Papers 11955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Corneo, Giacomo, 2006. "Media capture in a democracy: The role of wealth concentration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 37-58, January.
  5. Gustafsson, Björn Anders & Jansson, Birgitta, 2007. "Top Incomes in Sweden during Three-Quarters of a Century: A Micro Data Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2672, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," NBER Working Papers 11627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael C. Burda & Jennifer Hunt, 2001. "From Reunification to Economic Integration: Productivity and the Labor Market in Eastern Germany," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 1-92.
  8. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2005. "Top Incomes and Top Taxes in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 532, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Anthony B. Atkinson & Wiemer Salverda, 2005. "Top Incomes In The Netherlands And The United Kingdom Over The 20th Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 883-913, 06.
  10. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Angela Fiedler & Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, 2011. "Die ungleiche Entwicklung der Ungleichheit in Deutschland seit der Wiedervereinigung," ifo Dresden berichtet, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 18(03), pages 24-32, 06.
  2. Dirk Krüger, 2009. "Inequality Trends for Germany in the Last Two Decades: A Tale of Two Countries," MEA discussion paper series 09184, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  3. Hein, Eckhard, 2011. "Distribution, ‘Financialisation’ and the Financial and Economic Crisis – Implications for Post-crisis Economic Policies," MPRA Paper 31180, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Richard V. Burkhauser & Takashi Oshio & Ludmila Rovba, 2007. "How the Distribution of After-Tax Income Changed over the 1990s Business Cycle: A Comparison of the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 35, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Christoph Schinke, 2012. "Inheritance in Germany 1911 to 2009: A Mortality Multiplier Approach," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 462, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Petra Duenhaupt, 2011. "The Impact of Financialization on Income Distribution in the USA and Germany: A Proposal for a New Adjusted Wage Share," IMK Working Paper 7-2011, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  7. Michal Myck & Richard Ochmann & Salmai Qari, 2009. "Dynamics of Earnings and Hourly Wages in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 929, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Obst, Thomas, 2013. "Income inequality and the welfare state: How redistributive is the public sector?," IPE Working Papers 29/2013, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
  9. Mathias Sommer, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," MEA discussion paper series 08160, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  10. Jeffrey Thompson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income: Labor, Wealth and More Complete Measures of Well Being," Working Papers wp225, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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