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How Closely Do Top Income Shares Track Other Measures of Inequality?

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  • Andrew Leigh

Abstract

In recent years, researchers have used taxation statistics to estimate the share of total income held by the richest groups, such as the top 10% or the top 1%. Compiling a standardised top income shares dataset for thirteen developed countries, I find that there is a strong and significant relationship between top income shares and broader inequality measures, such as the gini coefficient. This suggests that panel data on top income shares may be a useful substitute for other measures of inequality over periods when alternative income distribution measures are of low quality, or unavailable

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Leigh, 2007. "How Closely Do Top Income Shares Track Other Measures of Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 562, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:562
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP562.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Fabien Dell, 2005. "Top Incomes in Germany and Switzerland Over the Twentieth Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 412-421, 04/05.
    3. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
    4. Chiaki Moriguchi & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Income Concentration in Japan, 1886-2002: Evidence from Income Tax Statistics," NBER Working Papers 12558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 200-205, May.
    7. Anthony B. Atkinson, 2005. "Comparing the Distribution of Top Incomes Across Countries," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 393-401, 04/05.
    8. Leigh, Andrew & van der Eng, Pierre, 2009. "Inequality in Indonesia: What can we learn from top incomes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 209-212, February.
    9. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
    10. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
    11. Alvaredo, Facundo & Saez, Emmanuel, 2006. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Spain in a Historical and Fiscal Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 5836, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. 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.
    13. Thomas Piketty, 2003. "Income Inequality in France, 1901-1998," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1004-1042, October.
    14. Anthony B. Atkinson & Wiemer Salverda, 2005. "Top Incomes In The Netherlands And The United Kingdom Over The 20th Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 883-913, June.
    15. Geoffrey Gilbert, 1997. "Adam Smith on the Nature and Causes of Poverty," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(3), pages 273-291.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; income distribution; top incomes; panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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