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From classes to copulas: wages, capital, and top incomes

Author

Listed:
  • Rolf Aaberge

    (University of Oslo)

  • Anthony B. Atkinson

    (Nuffield College, Oxford, London School of Economics and Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School)

  • Sebastian Königs

    (OECD Institute of Labor Economics
    IZA Institute of Labour Economics)

Abstract

Public debates about the rise in top income shares often focus on the growing dispersion in earnings, and the soaring pay for top executives and financial-sector employees. But can the change in the marginal distribution of earnings on its own explain the rise in top income shares? Are top executives replacing capital owners in the group of top-income earners, or are we rather witnessing a fusion of top capital and top earnings? This paper proposes an extension of the copula framework and uses it for exploring the changing composition of top incomes. It illustrates that changes in top income shares can easily be decomposed into respective changes in the marginal distributions of labour and capital income and the changing association between the two types of income. An application using tax record data from Norway shows that the association between top labour and capital incomes grew stronger between 1995 and 2005 in the top half of the wage and capital income distribution, though it declined for the top 1% of capital income receivers. A gender decomposition demonstrates that the association of wage and capital incomes at the top is particularly striking for men, whilst women are largely under-represented in the top halves of the two marginal distributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson & Sebastian Königs, 2018. "From classes to copulas: wages, capital, and top incomes," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 295-320, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecinq:v:16:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10888-018-9386-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s10888-018-9386-x
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    4. Koen Decancq, 2020. "Measuring cumulative deprivation and affluence based on the diagonal dependence diagram," METRON, Springer;Sapienza Università di Roma, vol. 78(2), pages 103-117, August.
    5. Luca Giangregorio & Davide Villani, 2023. "Income inequality, top shares of income and social classes in the 21st century," JRC Working Papers on Social Classes in the Digital Age 2023-05, Joint Research Centre.
    6. Yonatan Berman & Branko Milanovic, 2020. "Homoploutia: Top Labor and Capital Incomes in the United States, 1950-2020," LIS Working papers 806, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    7. Roberto Iacono & Elisa Palagi, 2020. "Still the lands of equality? On the heterogeneity of individual factor income shares in the Nordics," LEM Papers Series 2020/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony Atkinson & Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Distributional National Accounts (DINA) Guidelines : Concepts and Methods used in WID.world," Working Papers halshs-02794308, HAL.
    9. Luis Ayala & Ana Pérez & Mercedes Prieto-Alaiz, 2022. "The impact of different data sources on the level and structure of income inequality," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 583-611, September.
    10. Iacono Roberto & Palagi Elisa, 2022. "Still the Lands of Equality? Heterogeneity of Income Composition in the Nordics, 1975–2016," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(2), pages 221-268, April.
    11. Roman Bobilev & Anne Boschini & Jesper Roine, 2020. "Women in the Top of the Income Distribution: What Can We Learn From LIS-Data?," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 63-107, March.
    12. Paolo Caro, 2020. "Decomposing Personal Income Tax Redistribution with Application to Italy," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 18(1), pages 113-129, March.
    13. , Stone Center & Yonzan, Nishant, 2020. "Assortative Mating and Labor Income Inequality: Evidence from Fifty Years of Coupling in the U.S," SocArXiv 4whvs, Center for Open Science.
    14. Antonella D’agostino & Giovanni De Luca & Dominique Guégan, 2023. "Estimating Lower Tail Dependence Between Pairs of Poverty Dimensions in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 69(2), pages 419-442, June.
    15. César García‐Gómez & Ana Pérez & Mercedes Prieto‐Alaiz, 2021. "Copula‐based analysis of multivariate dependence patterns between dimensions of poverty in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 67(1), pages 165-195, March.
    16. Iryna Kyzyma & Alessio Fusco & Philippe Van Kerm, 2022. "Distributional Change: Assessing the Contribution of Household Income Sources," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 84(1), pages 158-184, February.
    17. Dorn, Franziska & Radice, Rosalba & Marra, Giampiero & Kneib, Thomas, 2021. "A bivariate relative poverty line for time and income poverty: Detecting intersectional differences using distributional copulas," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 435, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    18. Giovanna Scarcilli, 2024. "Studying the evolution of cumulative deprivation among European countries with a copula-based approach," Working Papers 667, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    19. Marco Ranaldi, 2022. "Income Composition Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 68(1), pages 139-160, March.
    20. Marco Ranaldi, 2016. "On the Measurement of Functional Income Distribution," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 16051rrr, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, revised Oct 2018.
    21. Marco Ranaldi, 2018. "On the Measurement of Functional Income Distribution," Post-Print halshs-01379229, HAL.
    22. Oliver Grothe & Fabian Kächele & Friedrich Schmid, 2022. "A multivariate extension of the Lorenz curve based on copulas and a related multivariate Gini coefficient," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 20(3), pages 727-748, September.
    23. Zhu, Junyi & Steiner, Viktor, 2020. "A Joint Top Income and Wealth Distribution," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224651, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    24. David Gallusser & Matthias Krapf, 2019. "Joint Income-Wealth Inequality: An Application Using Administrative Tax Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 7876, CESifo.
    25. Steiner, Viktor & Zhu, Junyi, 2021. "A joint top income and wealth distribution," Discussion Papers 2021/3, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Top incomes; Wages; Capital incomes; Copula;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution

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