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Income and Wealth Concentration in Switzerland Over the 20th Century

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  • Dell, Fabien
  • Piketty, Thomas
  • Saez, Emmanuel

Abstract

This paper presents homogeneous series on top shares of income and wealth in Switzerland since 1913 using personal income and wealth tax return statistics. In contrast to other countries such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or the United States, top income and wealth shares in Switzerland are strikingly flat over the century, and display no secular downtrend from the early part of the century to the post-World War II period. Switzerland hardly ever implemented a very progressive income and wealth tax structure and top income and wealth tax rates have been very low relative to other developed countries. Therefore, our findings for Switzerland lead much credence to the view that the development of very progressive taxation is the central factor explaining the sustained decline in wealth and income concentration in countries such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, or the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Dell, Fabien & Piketty, Thomas & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Switzerland Over the 20th Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 5090, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5090
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1953. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings (1953)," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn53-1, March.
    2. Lindert, Peter H., 2000. "Three centuries of inequality in Britain and America," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 167-216, Elsevier.
    3. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 223-254, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Brülhart, Marius & Gruber, Jonathan & Krapf, Matthias & Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2019. "Behavioral Responses to Wealth Taxes: Evidence from Switzerland," CEPR Discussion Papers 14054, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2007. "What Determines Top Income Shares? Evidence from the Twentieth Century," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 676, Stockholm School of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Aidt, Toke S. & Jensen, Peter S., 2009. "The taxman tools up: An event history study of the introduction of the personal income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 160-175, February.
    8. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960-2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 117-174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Ross Finnie & Ian Irvine, 2006. "Mobility and Gender at the Top Tail of the Earnings Distribution," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 37(2), pages 149-173.
    10. Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenström, 2011. "Common Trends and Shocks to Top Incomes: A Structural Breaks Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 832-846, August.
    11. Marius Brülhart & Jonathan Gruber & Matthias Krapf & Kurt Schmidheiny, 2016. "Taxing Wealth: Evidence from Switzerland," NBER Working Papers 22376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. José Mª Durán Cabré & Alejandro Esteller Moré, 2007. "An empirical analysis of wealth taxation: Equity Vs.tax compliance," Working Papers XREAP2007-03, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Jun 2007.
    13. Henry Ohlsson & Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenstrom, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," WIDER Working Paper Series RP2006-103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. David Gallusser & Matthias Krapf, 2019. "Joint Income-Wealth Inequality: An Application Using Administrative Tax Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 7876, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    income inequality; taxation; wealth inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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