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Income Distribution and Poverty in the OECD Area: Trends and Driving Forces

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  • Michael Förster
  • Mark Pearson

Abstract

This article uses internationally-comparable data on the distribution of income across households to identify some well-founded facts to replace the conjecture and supposition which too often dominate discussions on inequality and poverty. There has been a general trend in nearly all OECD countries towards increased market income (earnings and income from capital) inequality between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s. However, in a significant minority of countries this has not resulted in higher levels of inequality because either the amounts distributed through the tax and transfer system have increased, or because it has become more progressive. Changes in income distribution in the past ten years generally favoured the prime-age and elderly age groups, particularly those around retirement age. Relative income levels of single parents are very low and have worsened in a number of countries. Trends in earned income, and in particular trends in employment, are found to be crucial in explaining these changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Förster & Mark Pearson, 2003. "Income Distribution and Poverty in the OECD Area: Trends and Driving Forces," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2002(1), pages 7-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecokaa:5lmqcr2k2c8q
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eco_studies-v2002-art2-en
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    Cited by:

    1. Schmid, Erwin & Sinabell, Franz & Hofreither, Markus F., 2006. "Distributional effects of CAP instruments on farm household incomes in Austria," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21467, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Leonardo Gasparini & Leopoldo Tornarolli, 2015. "A review of the OECD Income Distribution Database," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 13(4), pages 579-602, December.
    3. Canares, Michael, 2009. "Macro-economic trends and their impacts on forests and forestry in Asia and the Pacific, outlook to 2020," MPRA Paper 28970, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Richard V. Burkhauser & Takashi Oshio & Ludmila Rovba, 2008. "How the Distribution of After-Tax Income Changed Over the 1990s Business Cycle: A Comparison of the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 17(1), pages 87-109, March.
    5. Bank for International Settlements, 2010. "Globalisation, labour markets and international adjustment - Essays in honour of Palle S Andersen," BIS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 50.
    6. Ådne Cappelen, 2006. "Differences in Learning and Inequality," Discussion Papers 457, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    7. Stephen Nickell, 2008. "Is the U.S. Labor Market Really That Exceptional? A Review of Richard Freeman," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 384-395, June.
    8. Ioannidis, Yiorgos, 2013. "The peculiar distributional character of the Greek taxation system (1995‐2008) and the reform that never took place," MPRA Paper 52121, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Tim Krieger & Daniel Meierrieks, 2010. "Terrorism in the Worlds of Welfare Capitalism," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(6), pages 902-939, December.
    10. Gudrun Biffl, 2003. "Distribution of Household Income in Austria," WIFO Working Papers 214, WIFO.
    11. Ive Marx & Brian Nolan & Javier Olivera, 2014. "The Welfare State and Anti-Poverty Policy in Rich Countries," Working Papers 1403, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    12. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2008. "Effectiveness of poverty reduction in the EU: A descriptive analysis," MPRA Paper 20167, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Productivity Commission, 2006. "The Role of Non-Traditional Work in the Australian Labour Market," Research Papers 0601, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.
    14. Wolfgang Pollan, 2009. "How large are wage differentials in Austria?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 389-406, November.
    15. Caroline Dewilde, 2011. "GINI DP 18: The interplay between economic inequality trends and housing regime changes in advanced welfare democracies," GINI Discussion Papers 18, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    16. Ana Paula Ribeiro & Miguel Viegas, 2011. "Welfare-improving Government Behaviour and Inequality-Inspection using a Heterogeneous-agents Model," EcoMod2011 3014, EcoMod.
    17. Georgia Kaplanoglou, 2004. "Household Consumption Patterns, Indirect Tax Structures and Implications for Indirect Tax Harmonisation - A Three Country Perspective," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 35(1), pages 83-107.
    18. Gudrun Biffl, 2007. "Development of the Distribution of Household Income in Austria," WIFO Working Papers 293, WIFO.
    19. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees & Koster, Ferry, 2010. "Social income transfers and poverty alleviation in OECD countries," MPRA Paper 20733, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Thomas Leoni & Wolfgang Pollan, 2003. "The Impact of Inequality on Economic Growth," WIFO Working Papers 211, WIFO.
    21. Ioannidis, Yiorgos, 2015. "The political economy of the distributional character of the Greek taxation system (1995–2008)," MPRA Paper 64033, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Callan, Tim & Keeney, Mary J. & Nolan, Brian & Maitre, Bertrand, 2004. "Why is Relative Income Poverty so High in Ireland?," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS53.
    23. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2009. "Social expenditure and poverty reduction in the EU15 and other OECD countries," MPRA Paper 20138, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. Sung Yeung Kwack & Young Sun Lee, 2007. "The Distribution And Polarization Of Income In Korea, 1965-2005: A Historical Analysis," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 32(2), pages 1-39, December.

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