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The Evolution of Top Incomes in Switzerland over the 20th Century

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  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Christoph Gorgas

Abstract

We study the income concentration in the Swiss federation over the course of the 20th century using federal income tax statistics. The results suggest that top incomes in Switzerland evolved over time rather remaining constant across different income shares. Income concentration peaked during the 1940s, with a slight downward trend until the 1990s. Over the last 15 years, top incomes have recovered. In contrast, the evolution of income concentration is much more heterogeneous on the sub-federal level for the 26 cantons because of the federalist constitution, which has a decentralized taxing power. Consequently, top incomes in some cantons have a downward trend; others show a fall and rise of top incomes over the century, as exemplified by the Kuznets’ hypothesis; some develop rather constantly; and some cantons even produce a striking upward trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph A. Schaltegger & Christoph Gorgas, 2011. "The Evolution of Top Incomes in Switzerland over the 20th Century," CREMA Working Paper Series 2011-06, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2011-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2010. "Top Incomes: A Global Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286898.
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    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:5:p:793-809 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Foellmi, Reto & Martínez, Isabel Z., 2014. "Volatile Top Income Shares in Switzerland? Reassessing the Evolution Between 1981 and 2009," CEPR Discussion Papers 10006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Frey, Christian & Schaltegger, Christoph A., 2016. "Progressive taxes and top income shares: A historical perspective on pre- and post-tax income concentration in Switzerland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 5-9.
    4. Reto Foellmi & Isabel Z. Martínez, 2017. "Volatile Top Income Shares in Switzerland? Reassessing the Evolution between 1981 and 2010," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(5), pages 793-809, December.
    5. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2015. "Income and policy choices: Evidence from parliamentary decisions and referenda," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 117-120.
    6. repec:bla:revinw:v:63:y:2017:i:4:p:792-820 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Christoph Gorgas, 2014. "Wie entwickelt sich die Schweizer Mittelschicht?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2014-11, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income inequality; Top incomes; Taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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