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From Bottom to Top: The Entire Distribution of Market Income in Germany, 1992 - 2001

  • Stefan Bach
  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Viktor Steiner

We analyze the distribution and concentration of market incomes in Germany in the period 1992 to 2001 on the basis of an integrated data set of individual tax returns and the German Socio-Economic Panel. The unique feature of this integrated data set is that it encompasses the whole spectrum of the population, from the very poor to the very rich. We find a modest increase in overall inequality of market incomes as measured by the Gini coefficient. However, we also document a substantial drop of median income and a remarkable income growth at the top 0.1% of the income distribution. The increase of income inequality was stronger in East Germany than in West Germany. In both regions, the income concentration process strongly benefited the economic elite, which we define as the richest 0.001% persons in the population. While the elite mainly obtains its income from business and capital, the income share that it receives in form of wage income is increasing.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.55866.de/dp683.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 683.

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Length: 27 p.
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp683
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  1. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 11842, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Corneo, Giacomo, 2005. "Media capture in a democracy: the role of wealth concentration," Discussion Papers 2005/1, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  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.
  4. 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.
  5. Anthony B. Atkinson & Wiemer Salverda, 2005. "Top Incomes In The Netherlands And The United Kingdom Over The 20th Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 883-913, 06.
  6. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Wolfgang Franz & Viktor Steiner, 2000. "Wages in the East German Transition Process: Facts and Explanations," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(3), pages 241-269, 08.
  8. Michael C. Burda & Jennifer Hunt, 2001. "From Reunification to Economic Integration: Productivity and the Labor Market in Eastern Germany," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 1-92.
  9. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2006. "Top Incomes and Top Taxes in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 1641, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Gustafsson, Björn Anders & Jansson, Birgitta, 2007. "Top Incomes in Sweden during Three-Quarters of a Century: A Micro Data Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2672, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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