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Between communism and capitalism: long-term inequality in Poland, 1892–2015

Author

Listed:
  • Paweł Bukowski

    (London School of Economics and Political Science
    Institute of Economics, The Polish Academy of Sciences)

  • Filip Novokmet

    (University of Bonn)

Abstract

We construct the first consistent series on the long-term distribution of income in Poland by combining tax, household survey and national accounts data. We document a U-shaped evolution of inequalities from the end of the nineteenth century until today: (1) inequality was high before WWII; (2) abruptly fell after the introduction of communism in 1947 and stagnated at low levels during the whole communist period; (3) experienced a sharp rise with the return to capitalism in 1989. We find that official survey-based measures strongly under-estimate the rise in inequality since 1989. Our results highlight the prominent role of capital income in driving the U-shaped evolution of top income shares. The unique inequality history of Poland speaks to the central role of institutions and policies in shaping inequality in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Paweł Bukowski & Filip Novokmet, 2021. "Between communism and capitalism: long-term inequality in Poland, 1892–2015," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 187-239, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:26:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s10887-021-09190-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-021-09190-1
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    4. Wroński, Marcin, 2023. "The full distribution of adult height in Poland: Cohorts born between 1920 and 1996. The biological cost of the economic transition," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 50(C).
    5. Pawel Bukowski & Pawel Chrostek & Filip Novokmet & Marek Skawinski, 2023. "Income inequality in the 21st century Poland," CEP Discussion Papers dp1966, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Liu, Xianda & Hou, Wenxuan & Main, Brian G.M., 2022. "Anti-market sentiment and corporate social responsibility: Evidence from anti-Jewish pogroms," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    7. Michal Brzezinski & Katarzyna Salach, 2022. "Determinants of inequality in transition countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 496-496, June.
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    9. Brzezinski, Michal & Myck, Michał & Najsztub, Mateusz, 2022. "Sharing the gains of transition: Evaluating changes in income inequality and redistribution in Poland using combined survey and tax return data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).

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    17. Ademola Obafemi Young, 2019. "Growth Impacts of Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence From Nigeria," Research in World Economy, Research in World Economy, Sciedu Press, vol. 10(3), pages 226-262, December.
    18. Veronica Amarante, 2014. "Revisiting Inequality and Growth: Evidence for Developing Countries," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(4), pages 571-589, December.
    19. Andrew Berg & Jonathan D. Ostry & Charalambos G. Tsangarides & Yorbol Yakhshilikov, 2018. "Redistribution, inequality, and growth: new evidence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 259-305, September.
    20. Bukowski, Pawel & Novokmet, Filip, 2017. "Top incomes during wars, communism and capitalism: Poland 1892-2015," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 101855, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income inequality; Transformation; Poland;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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