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Income Inequality in France, 1901-1998

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  • Thomas Piketty

Abstract

This paper uses data from income tax returns (191598), wage tax returns (191998), and inheritance tax returns (190294) in order to compute homogeneous, yearly estimates of income, wage, and wealth inequality for twentieth-century France. The main conclusion is that the decline in income inequality that took place during the first half of the century was mostly accidental. In France, and possibly in a number of other countries as well, wage inequality has been extremely stable in the long run, and the secular decline in income inequality is for the most part a capital income phenomenon. Holders of large fortunes were badly hurt by major shocks during the 191445 period, and they were never able to fully recover from these shocks, probably because of the dynamic effects of progressive taxation on capital accumulation and pretax income inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Piketty, 2003. "Income Inequality in France, 1901-1998," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1004-1042, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:111:y:2003:i:5:p:1004-1042
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    1. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1953. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn53-1.
    2. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1953. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Savings," NBER Chapters,in: Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings, pages 171-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    4. James M. Poterba (ed.), 1993. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262660814, November.
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