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Colonial Rule, Apartheid and Natural Resources: Top Incomes in South Africa, 1903-2007

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  • Alvaredo, Facundo
  • Atkinson, Anthony B

Abstract

There have been important studies of overall income inequality and of poverty in South Africa. In this paper, we approach the subject from a different direction: the extent and evolution of top incomes. We present estimates of the shares in total income of groups such as the top 1 per cent and the top 0.1 per cent, covering, with gaps, more than a hundred years. In order to explain the observed dynamics, here we consider three factors: the transfer of political authority, racial discrimination, and the rich mineral resources. The estimates of top income shares for recent years bear out the picture of South Africa as a highly unequal country.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvaredo, Facundo & Atkinson, Anthony B, 2010. "Colonial Rule, Apartheid and Natural Resources: Top Incomes in South Africa, 1903-2007," CEPR Discussion Papers 8155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8155
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brian Dollery, 2003. "A History Of Inequality In South Africa, 1652-2002," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 71(3), pages 595-610, September.
    2. 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, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Servaas Van Der Berg & Megan Louw, 2004. "Changing Patterns Of South African Income Distribution: Towards Time Series Estimates Of Distribution And Poverty," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 546-572, September.
    5. Janine Aron & Geeta Kingdon, 2007. "South African Economic Policy Under Democracy," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 661-667, November.
    6. Murray Leibbrandt & Ingrid Woolard & Arden Finn & Jonathan Argent, 2010. "Trends in South African Income Distribution and Poverty since the Fall of Apartheid," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 101, OECD Publishing.
    7. A. B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2008. "Top Incomes In New Zealand 1921-2005: Understanding The Effects Of Marginal Tax Rates, Migration Threat, And The Macroeconomy," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(2), pages 149-165, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Facundo Alvaredo & Leonardo Gasparini, 2013. "Recent Trends in Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0151, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    distribution; income taxation; South Africa; top income shares;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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