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La distribution des revenus dans les pays de l'OCDE au vingtième siècle

Listed author(s):
  • Tony Atkinson

[eng] This article is concerned with the distribution of household income in OECD countries. The first section of the paper seeks to place the study of income distribution within the subject of economics, explaining that it is studied both for its instrumental and intrinsic interest. The second section sets out some of the empirical evidence, both cross-country in the OECD today, and across time, particularly for the United States (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK). The third section considers some of the explanations that can be given. This begins with the conventional wisdom that the recent rise in inequality in the USA and certain other OECD countries is due to a shift in demand away from unskilled towards skilled labour, as a result of heightened competition from newly industrialising countries or the result of technical change biased towards skilled labour. It then considers three problems with the conventional approach: (a) in the US the tilt against low paid workers has been reversed in the 1990s, and in some other OECD countries one does not observe a general tilt at the top; (b) the impact of changes in gross incomes may be moderated by taxes and transfers, and these policies may have changed; (c) the rise in inequality at the top of the distribution requires different explanation (s). [fre] Cet article est consacré à l'étude de la dispersion des revenus des ménages dans les pays de l'OCDE. Nous replaçons tout d'abord l'analyse de la distribution des revenus au sein de la théorie économique, en expliquant qu'elle offre simultanément un intérêt intrinsèque et un intérêt instrumental. Puis nous présentons quelques résultats empiriques concernant soit des comparaisons entre les pays de l'OCDE, soit des comparaisons dans le temps, en insistant particulièrement sur les cas américain et britannique. Enfin nous proposons quelques interprétations des disparités observées. Nous discutons d'abord la vision conventionnelle selon laquelle l'augmentation récente des inégalités aux USA et dans certains autres pays de l'OCDE vient du déplacement de la demande de main-d'œuvre non qualifiée vers la main-d'œuvre qualifiée, à la suite d'une concurrence accrue de la part des pays nouvellement industrialisés ou d'un changement technique biaisé en faveur du travail qualifié. Ensuite, nous étudions trois problèmes suscités par l'approche conventionnelle : (a) aux USA, le mouvement en défaveur des bas salaires s'est inversé dans les années 1990, et dans certains autres pays de l'OCDE on n'observe pas de biais général dans le haut de la distribution ; (b) l'impact des changements dans les revenus bruts peut être modéré par les impôts et les transferts, et ces politiques peuvent avoir changé ; (c) l'augmentation de l'inégalité dans le haut de la distribution exige des explications différentes.

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Article provided by Programme National Persée in its journal Revue française d'économie.

Volume (Year): 17 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 3-31

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Handle: RePEc:prs:rfreco:rfeco_0769-0479_2002_num_17_1_1453
Note: DOI:10.3406/rfeco.2002.1453
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