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The Distribution of Top Incomes in New Zealand

Author

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  • A. B. Atkinson
  • Andrew Leigh

Abstract

Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in New Zealand over the period 1921-2002. We find that the income share of the richest fell during the 1930s, rose again after World War II, and steadily declined from the late-1950s until the mid-1980s. From the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, top income shares rose rapidly. We also estimate shares-within-shares, and find that the income share of the super-rich as a share of the rich followed a similar trajectory, rising sharply over the past quarter-century. Throughout the twentieth century, top income shares in New Zealand followed a very similar pattern to top income shares in Australia. We speculate that the reduction in top marginal tax rates, the deregulation of the economy, and the internationalisation of the market for English-speaking CEOs may have contributed to the recent rise in top income shares.

Suggested Citation

  • A. B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2005. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in New Zealand," CEPR Discussion Papers 503, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:503
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP503.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Atkinson, Tony & Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Five Anglo-Saxon Countries over the Twentieth Century," IZA Discussion Papers 4937, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Dean R. Hyslop & David C. Maré, 2005. "Understanding New Zealand's Changing Income Distribution, 1983-1998: A Semi-parametric Analysis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(3), pages 469-495, August.
    3. A. B. Atkinson, 2005. "Top incomes in the UK over the 20th century," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(2), pages 325-343.
    4. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2007. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 83(262), pages 247-261, September.
    5. Lewis Evans & Arthur Grimes & Bryce Wilkinson, 1996. "Economic Reform in New Zealand 1984-95: The Pursuit of Efficiency," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1856-1902, December.
    6. Rankin, Keith, 1992. "New Zealand's Gross National Product: 1859-1939," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 38(1), pages 49-69, March.
    7. Alex Bakker & John Creedy, 1999. "Macroeconomic variables and income inequality in New Zealand: An exploration using conditional mixture distributions," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 59-79.
    8. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2003. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Canada, 1920-2000," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 382, McMaster University.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. Chart of the day, growing the pie so there’s more for all edition
      by danylmc in The Dim-Post on 2011-06-06 23:24:33

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia Sanhueza & Ricardo Mayer, 2011. "Top Incomes in Chile using 50 years of household surveys : 1957-2007," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 38(1 Year 20), pages 169-193, June.
    2. Facundo Alvaredo, 2007. "The Rich in Argentina over the twentieth century: From the Conservative Republic to the Peronist experience and beyond 1932-2004," Working Papers halshs-00588318, HAL.
    3. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," WIDER Working Paper Series 103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Andrew Leigh, 2007. "How Closely Do Top Income Shares Track Other Measures of Inequality?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(524), pages 619-633, November.
    5. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2009. "The long-run determinants of inequality: What can we learn from top income data?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 974-988, August.
    6. Andrews Dan & Jencks Christopher & Leigh Andrew, 2011. "Do Rising Top Incomes Lift All Boats?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-45, January.
    7. Salvatore Morelli & Timothy Smeeding & Jeffrey Thompson, 2014. "Post-1970 Trends in Within-Country Inequality and Poverty: Rich and Middle Income Countries," CSEF Working Papers 356, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    8. Francisco Azpitarte, 2014. "Was Pro-Poor Economic Growth in Australia for the Income-Poor? And for the Multidimensionally-Poor?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 871-905, July.
    9. Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2008. "The evolution of top incomes in an egalitarian society: Sweden, 1903-2004," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 366-387, February.
    10. Jordi Guilera Rafecas, 2008. "Top income shares in Portugal over the twentieth century," Working Papers in Economics 195, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    11. Alvaredo, Facundo, 2009. "Top incomes and earnings in Portugal 1936-2005," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 404-417, October.
    12. Facundo Alvaredo, 2008. "Top incomes and earnings in Portugal 1936-2004," Working Papers halshs-00586795, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; New Zealand;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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