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Generalized Pareto Curves: Theory and Applications

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  • Blanchet, Thomas
  • Fournier, Juliette
  • Piketty, Thomas

Abstract

We define generalized Pareto curves as the curve of inverted Pareto coefficients b(p), where b(p) is the ratio between average income or wealth above rank p and the p-th quantile Q(p) (i.e. b(p) = E[X|X > Q(p)]/Q(p)). We use them to characterize entire distributions, including places like the top where power laws are a good description, and places further down where they are not. We develop a method to nonparametrically recover the entire distribution based on tabulated income or wealth data as is generally available from tax authorities, which produces smooth and realistic shapes of generalized Pareto curves. Us- ing detailed tabulations from quasi-exhaustive tax data, we demonstrate the precision of our method both empirically and analytically. It gives better results than the most com- monly used interpolation techniques. Finally, we use Pareto curves to identify recurring distributional patterns, and connect those findings to the existing literature that explains observed distributions by random growth models.

Suggested Citation

  • Blanchet, Thomas & Fournier, Juliette & Piketty, Thomas, 2017. "Generalized Pareto Curves: Theory and Applications," CEPR Discussion Papers 12404, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12404
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Taleb, Nassim Nicholas & Douady, Raphael, 2015. "On the super-additivity and estimation biases of quantile contributions," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 429(C), pages 252-260.
    2. Neil Bania & Laura Leete, 2009. "Monthly household income volatility in the U.S., 1991/92 vs. 2002/03," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 2100-2112.
    3. 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, December.
    4. Marcin Kacperczyk & Jaromir B. Nosal & Luminita Stevens, 2014. "Investor Sophistication and Capital Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 20246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Charles I. Jones & Jihee Kim, 2014. "A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 20637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts," Working Papers 201704, World Inequality Lab.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kvedaras, Virmantas, 2017. "Income inequality and private bank credit in developed economies," Working Papers 2017-06, Joint Research Centre, European Commission (Ispra site).
    2. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Capital Accumulation, Private Property and Rising Inequality in China, 1978-2015," NBER Working Papers 23368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Nora Lustig, 2018. "Measuring the Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth: State of Play and Measurement Challenges," Working Papers 1801, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    4. Garbinti, Bertrand & Goupille-Lebret, Jonathan & Piketty, Thomas, 2017. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)," CEPR Discussion Papers 11848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Annette Alstadsæter & Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Tax Evasion and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 23772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Facundo Alvaredo & Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Global Inequality Dynamics: New Findings from WID.world," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 404-409, May.
    7. repec:eee:pubeco:v:162:y:2018:i:c:p:63-77 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2016. "Appendix to "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)"," Working Papers 201606, World Inequality Lab.
    9. Christian Alexander Belabed & Mariya Hake, 2018. "Income inequality and trust in national governments in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe," Working Papers 222, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
    10. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts," Working Papers 201704, World Inequality Lab.
    11. Garbinti, Bertrand & Goupille-Lebret, Jonathan & Piketty, Thomas, 2018. "Income inequality in France, 1900–2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts (DINA)," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 63-77.
    12. Léo Czajka, 2017. "Income Inequality in Côte d'Ivoire: 1985-2014," Working Papers 201708, World Inequality Lab.
    13. Böhl, Gregor & Fischer, Thomas, 2017. "Can taxation predict US top-wealth share dynamics?," IMFS Working Paper Series 118, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS).
    14. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Appendix to "Capital Accumulation, Private Property and Rising Inequality in China, 1978-2015"," Working Papers 201707, World Inequality Lab.
    15. Marc Morgan, 2018. "Income inequality, growth and elite taxation in Brazil: new evidence combining survey and fiscal data, 2001?2015," Working Papers 165, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    16. Sara Torregrosa Hetland & Oriol Sabaté, 2018. "Income tax and war inflation: was the ‘blood tax’ compensated by taxing the rich?," Working Papers 18010, Economic History Society.

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