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Completing the Bathtub?: The Development of Top Incomes in Germany, 1907-2007

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  • Christina Anselmann
  • Hagen M. Krämer

Abstract

This paper examines the evolution of top incomes in Germany from 1907-2007 with a special focus on past decades. A more detailed analysis of German top incomes is conducted, beginning with a review of selected income distribution measures which indicate that high incomes have played a significant role for income divergence in recent years. Based on newdata it is shown that top income shares have indeed increased substantially in the recent past, a process which is mainly due to a relative rise in employment rather than capital income within the top income groups. Finally, some theories explaining high incomes of the "working rich" are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Anselmann & Hagen M. Krämer, 2012. "Completing the Bathtub?: The Development of Top Incomes in Germany, 1907-2007," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 451, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp451
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.402879.de/diw_sp0451.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2010. "Top Incomes: A Global Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286898.
    3. 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.
    4. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2013. "Effective Taxation of Top Incomes in Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 14(2), pages 115-137, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Johannes Schwarze, 1998. "Der Einfluß alternativer Konzeptionen von Alterssicherungssystemen auf Sicherungsniveau, Altersarmut und Einkommensverteilung: ein Vergleich zwischen Deutschland und den USA," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 160, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Markus M. Grabka & Joachim R. Frick, 2008. "Schrumpfende Mittelschicht: Anzeichen einer dauerhaften Polarisierung der verfügbaren Einkommen?," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 75(10), pages 101-108.
    8. Bebchuk, Lucian A. & Fried, Jesse M., 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt81q3136r, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    9. Lucian Arye Bebchuk & Jesse M. Fried, 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 71-92, Summer.
    10. A. B. Atkinson, 2001. "A Critique of the Transatlantic Consensus on Rising Income Inequality," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(4), pages 433-452, April.
    11. Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Top Incomes in the United States and Canada Over the Twentieth Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 402-411, 04/05.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christina Anselmann & Hagen M. Krämer, 2015. "Income inequality and top incomes: some recent empirical developments with a focus on Germany," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(6), pages 770-786, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Top income shares; income dispersion; executive compensation;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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