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Top Incomes and National Savings

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  • Andrew Leigh
  • Alberto Posso

Abstract

The relationship between income inequality and national savings is theoretically ambiguous, and past empirical studies have delivered mixed results. We revisit the question using a newly available source of data on inequality: the income share of the richest 10 percent and the richest 1 percent. Combining this with historical data on national savings rates, we are able to investigate the relationship for eleven developed countries over the period 1921-2002. We find no consistent relationship between lagged top income shares and current savings rates, and our standard errors are small enough that we are able to reject more than modest effects in either direction. We view this as suggesting that inequality at the top end of the distribution is not a major driver of national savings rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Leigh & Alberto Posso, 2008. "Top Incomes and National Savings," CEPR Discussion Papers 588, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:588
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP588.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    2. Busl, Claudia & Iliewa, Zwetelina & Jokisch, Sabine & Kappler, Marcus & Roscher, Thomas & Schindler, Felix & Schleer, Frauke, 2012. "Endbericht an das Bundesministerium der Finanzen zum Forschungsauftrag fe 11/11: "Sparen und Investieren vor dem Hintergrund des demografischen Wandels"," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, number 110554.
    3. 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.
    4. Tuominen Elina, 2016. "Changes or levels? Reassessment of the relationship between top-end inequality and growth," Working Papers 1609, University of Tampere, School of Management, Economics.
    5. repec:bla:jecsur:v:31:y:2017:i:2:p:463-496 is not listed on IDEAS
    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. Tuomas, Malinen, 2011. "Inequality and savings: a reassesment of the relationship in cointegrated panels," MPRA Paper 33350, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Santo Milasi, 2014. "Top Income Shares and Budget Deficits," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 1, pages 383-406, January-M.
    9. Rémi Bazillier & Jérôme Hericourt, 2017. "The Circular Relationship Between Inequality, Leverage, And Financial Crises," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(2), pages 463-496, April.
    10. Xinhua Gu & Bihong Huang & Pui Sun Tam & Yang Zhang, 2015. "Inequality and Saving: Further Evidence from Integrated Economies," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 15-30, February.
    11. Jan Behringer & Till van Treeck, 2013. "Income distribution and current account: A sectoral perspective," IMK Working Paper 125-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    12. Bofinger, Peter & Scheuermeyer, Philipp, 2016. "Income Distribution and Aggregate Saving: A Non-Monotonic Relationship," CEPR Discussion Papers 11435, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. repec:oup:cambje:v:42:y:2018:i:1:p:47-94. is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & El-Attar, Mayssun, 2012. "Income Inequality and Saving," IZA Discussion Papers 7083, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Christian A Belabed & Thomas Theobald & Till van Treeck, 2018. "Income distribution and current account imbalances," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(1), pages 47-94.
    16. Tuomas Malinen, 2011. "Income Inequality and Savings: A Reassessment of the Relationship in Cointegrated Panels," DEGIT Conference Papers c016_076, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    17. Rémi Bazillier & Jérôme Héricourt, 2014. "The Circular Relationship between Inequality, Leverage, and Financial Crises: Intertwined Mechanisms and Competing Evidence," Working Papers 2014-22, CEPII research center.
    18. Scheuermeyer, Philipp & Bofinger, Peter, 2016. "Income Distribution and Household Saving: A Non-Monotonic Relationship," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145901, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    national savings; inequality; top incomes; panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General

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