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IRELAND's INCOME DISTRIBUTION IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE

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  • Brian Nolan
  • Timothy M. Smeeding

Abstract

There are concerns that the unprecedented economic boom which Ireland experienced in the second half of the 1990s has raised only some living standards and has widened income gaps. This paper analyzes Ireland's income distribution in comparative perspective, to understand how Ireland's distribution changed and how it compares to other rich countries. We begin with OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data to compare Ireland's degree of well-being and inequality with other advanced countries. We also look in some detail at alternative sources of Irish income and their implications for the trends in income inequality in Ireland from 1994 to 2000. For instance, we examine the top of the distribution using data from the administration of the income tax system. We conclude that the spectacular economic growth in the past decade has seen the gap in average income between Ireland and the richer OECD countries narrow dramatically. However, this growth has not greatly affected the Irish ranking in terms of income inequality. Ireland remains an outlier among rich European nations in its high degree of income inequality, though still falling well short of the level seen in the United States. In the end, we find that Ireland's new-found prosperity provides a "social dividend," and choices about how it is used will fundamentally affect whether the current high level of income inequality persists into the future. Copyright 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Nolan & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2005. "IRELAND's INCOME DISTRIBUTION IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(4), pages 537-560, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:51:y:2005:i:4:p:537-560
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Markus Jäntti & Bruce Bradbury, 1999. "Child Poverty across Industrialized Nations," LIS Working papers 205, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    2. Whelan, Christopher T. & Layte, Richard & Maitre, Bertrand & Gannon, Brenda & Nolan, Brian & Watson, Dorothy & Williams, James, 2003. "Monitoring Poverty trends in Ireland: Results from the 2001 Living in Ireland Survey," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS51.
    3. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-41.
    4. Thomas Piketty, 2003. "Income Inequality in France, 1901-1998," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1004-1042, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2005. "You take the high road and I’ll take the low road : economic success and wellbeing in the longer run," Working Papers 200510, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    2. Timothy Smeeding, 2005. "Poor People in Rich Nations: The United States in Comparative Perspective," LIS Working papers 419, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. Brian Nolan & Bertrand Maitre & Sarah Voitchovsky & Christopher Whelan, 2012. "GINI DP 70: Inequality and Poverty in Boom and Bust: Ireland as a Case Study," GINI Discussion Papers 70, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    4. Timothy Smeeding, 2006. "Poor People in Rich Nations: The United States in Comparative Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 69-90, Winter.
    5. E. Calvert & Brian Nolan & Tony Fahey & D. Healy & A. Mulcahy & B. Maître & Michelle Norris & I. O’Donnell & Nessa Winston & Christopher Whelan, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Ireland," GINI Country Reports ireland, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    6. Edgar Morgenroth, 2007. "The Regional Dimension of Taxes and Public Expenditure in Ireland," Papers WP195, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

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