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Wall Street and Main Street: What Contributes to the Rise in the Highest Incomes?

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  • Steven N. Kaplan
  • Joshua Rauh

Abstract

We study how much of the top end of the income distribution is represented by four sectors--non-financial-firm top executives (Main Street); investment bankers and hedge, private equity, and mutual fund investors (Wall Street); corporate lawyers; and athletes and celebrities. Wall Street individuals comprise a higher percentage of the top income brackets than nonfinancial executives of public companies. While top executives' representation in the top brackets has increased from 1994 to 2004, Wall Street's representation has likely increased even more. We discuss the implications of our findings for different explanations for the increased skewness at the highest income levels. The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven N. Kaplan & Joshua Rauh, 2010. "Wall Street and Main Street: What Contributes to the Rise in the Highest Incomes?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(3), pages 1004-1050, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:23:y:2010:i:3:p:1004-1050
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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