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Pareto and the Upper Tail of the Income Distribution in the UK: 1799 to the Present

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  • A. B. Atkinson

Abstract

The Pareto distribution has long been a source of fascination to economists, and the Pareto coefficient is widely used, in theoretical and empirical studies, as a summary of the degree of concentration of top incomes. This paper examines the empirical evidence from income tax data concerning top incomes in the UK, contrasting the dramatic changes that took place in the twentieth century, after 1918, with the much more modest changes in the preceding nineteenth century. Probing beneath the surface, it identifies a number of features of the evolution of the UK income inequality that warrant closer attention. These include the changing shape of the upper tail, where there is a link with Pareto’s theory of elites, the need for a richer functional form to describe top incomes, and the limited evidence at the top of the distribution for a Kuznets curve in nineteenth century Britain.
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  • A. B. Atkinson, 2017. "Pareto and the Upper Tail of the Income Distribution in the UK: 1799 to the Present," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 129-156, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:129-156
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Pareto and the upper tail of the income distribution in the UK: 1799 to the present
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-10-25 18:44:54

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen P. Jenkins, 2017. "Pareto Models, Top Incomes and Recent Trends in UK Income Inequality," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 261-289, April.
    2. Fix, Blair, 2018. "The growth of US top income inequality: A hierarchical redistribution hypothesis," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2018/05, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    3. Arthur Charpentier & Emmanuel Flachaire, 2019. "Pareto Models for Top Incomes," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-02145024, HAL.
    4. Frank Cowell & Dirk Van de gaer, 2017. "Condorcet was Wrong, Pareto was Right: Families, Inheritance and Inequality," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 34, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    5. François Bourguignon, 2018. "Simple adjustments of observed distributions for missing income and missing people," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 171-188, June.
    6. Safari, Muhammad Aslam Mohd & Masseran, Nurulkamal & Ibrahim, Kamarulzaman, 2018. "A robust semi-parametric approach for measuring income inequality in Malaysia," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 512(C), pages 1-13.
    7. Christian Schluter, 2018. "Top Incomes, Heavy Tails, and Rank-Size Regressions," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-16, March.
    8. Yuriy Bilan & Halyna Mishchuk & Natalia Samoliuk & Halyna Yurchyk, 2020. "Impact of Income Distribution on Social and Economic Well-Being of the State," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(1), pages 1-15, January.
    9. Vladimir Hlasny, 2020. "Parametric Representation of the Top of Income Distributions: Options, Historical Evidence and Model Selection," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 90, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    10. Salvatore Morelli, 2018. "Banking crises in the US: the response of top income shares in a historical perspective," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 257-294, June.
    11. Fix, Blair, 2018. "The Growth of US Top Income Inequality: A Hierarchical Redistribution Hypothesis," SocArXiv suqnk, Center for Open Science.
    12. Jordá, Vanesa & Niño-Zarazúa, Miguel, 2019. "Global inequality: How large is the effect of top incomes?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.

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    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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