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Top incomes and the gender divide

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  • Atkinson, Anthony B.
  • Casarico, A.
  • Voitchovsky, S.

Abstract

In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. How many of the top 1 and 10 per cent are women? A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over to the distribution of total incomes, bringing self-employment and capital income into the picture? We investigate the gender divide at the top of the income distribution using tax record data for a sample of eight countries with individual taxation. We show that women are under-represented at the top of the distribution. They account for between a fifth and a third of those in the top 10 per cent. Higher up the income distribution, the proportion is lower, with women constituting between 14 and 22 per cent of the top 1 per cent. The presence of women in the top income groups has generally increased over time, but the rise becomes smaller at the very top. As a result, the gradient with income has become more marked: the under-representation of women today increases more sharply. Examination of the shape of the income distribution by fitting a Pareto distribution shows that at the end of the period women disappear faster than men as one moves up the income scale in all countries. In this sense, there appears to be something of a “glass ceiling” for women. In the case of Canada, Denmark, Norway and New Zealand, there appears to have been a reversal over time, with the slope of the upper tail having been steeper for women in the past. In seeking to explain this, we highlight the role of income composition, where we show that there have been significant changes over time, underlining the fact that it is not sufficient to look only at earned income.

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  • Atkinson, Anthony B. & Casarico, A. & Voitchovsky, S., 2016. "Top incomes and the gender divide," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 101814, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:101814
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    1. Top Incomes and the Gender Divide
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-09-12 23:49:10

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    2. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2017. "Women in Top Incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1974-2013," Working Paper Series 5/2017, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    3. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson & Sebastian Königs, 2018. "From classes to copulas: wages, capital, and top incomes," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 295-320, June.
    4. Richard V. Burkhauser & Nicolas Herault & Stephen P. Jenkins & Roger Wilkins, 2020. "What accounts for the rising share of women in the top 1\%?," Working Papers 544, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    5. Lucas Chancel, 2019. "Ten facts about income inequality in advanced economies," Working Papers hal-02876982, HAL.
    6. Hecht, Katharina & Summers, Kate, 2020. "The long and short of it: the temporal significance of wealth and income," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 106519, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 553-609.
    8. Amadeo Fuenmayor & Rafael Granell & Teresa Savall Morera, 2020. "Tax-benefit Systems and Gender Gap. An Across-Europe Study," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 235(4), pages 87-118, December.
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    10. Gozde Corekcioglu & Marco Francesconi & Astrid Kunze, 2020. "Do Generous Parental Leave Policies Help Top Female Earners?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8330, CESifo.
    11. Michael A. Nelson & Rajeev K. Goel, 2021. "Does Gender Equality Translate into Economic Equality? Evidence from about 150 Nations," CESifo Working Paper Series 8949, CESifo.
    12. Fortin, Nicole M. & Bell, Brian & Böhm, Michael, 2017. "Top earnings inequality and the gender pay gap: Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 107-123.
    13. Maria De Paola & Rosetta Lombarso & Valeria Pupo & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2020. "Do Women Shy Away From Public Speaking? A Field Experiment," Working Papers 202001 Classification-JEL, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    14. Terhi Ravaska, 2018. "Top incomes and income dynamics from a gender perspective: Evidence from Finland 1995–2012," Working Papers 321, Palkansaajien tutkimuslaitos, Labour Institute for Economic Research.
    15. Terhi Ravaska, 2020. "Gender-specific top incomes: are they Pareto distributed?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 40(3), pages 1994-2004.
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    17. Roman Bobilev & Anne Boschini & Jesper Roine, 2020. "Women in the Top of the Income Distribution: What Can We Learn From LIS-Data?," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 63-107, March.
    18. Ravaska Terhi, 2018. "Top incomes and income dynamics from a gender perspective : Evidence from Finland 1995-2012," Working Papers 1822, Tampere University, School of Management and Business, Economics.
    19. Alessandra Casarico & Paola Profeta, 2020. "Introduction Special Issue “On Gender Perspectives in Public Economics”," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 235(4), pages 3-10, December.
    20. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2020. "Women in top incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1971–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    21. Lucas Chancel, 2019. "Ten facts about income inequality in advanced economies," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02876982, HAL.
    22. M. Costa, 2019. "The evaluation of gender income inequality by means of the Gini index decomposition," Working Papers wp1130, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    23. Casarico, A. & Lattanzio, S., 2019. "What Firms Do: Gender Inequality in Linked Employer-Employee Data," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1966, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    24. Paolo Di Caro, 2017. "The contribution of tax statistics for analysing regional income disparities in Italy," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 25(1), pages 1-27, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    top income groups; gender; income composition;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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