IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Tax Progressivity and Recent Evolution of the Finnish Income Inequality

  • Marja Riihelä
  • Risto Sullström
  • Ilpo Suoniemi

After the Economic Crisis in early 1990s the Finnish economy has recovered rapidly, and simultaneously a major period of equalization from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s has been reversed, taking the levels of the Gini coefficient in a few years back to levels of inequality found 30 years ago. The paper examines how changes in Government policy, and in particular, in the incentives introduced by tax reforms have influenced income inequality. The paper introduces a decomposition of the Gini and concentration coefficients by population groups which are calculated for before- and after-tax incomes to consider evolution of income inequality and tax progressivity in Finland over the period 1990?2004. Decompositions of the Gini coefficient of after-tax income by income sources give little information on the effects of taxation. In contrast, popular measures of tax progressivity (Reynolds and Smolensky 1977) show a significant decrease. Our decomposition of the progressivity measure by income deciles focuses on changes in tax treatment of the income deciles in the ten year period after the mid 1990s. The changes in the decile shares of before-tax and after-tax income among those in the highest before-tax income deciles are the main factors that lie behind the recent change in tax progressivity, and play an important role in explaining the recent surge in inequality. These changes have been accompanied with a change in the composition of factor income. There has been an unprecedented increase in capital income which has mainly accrued to the population groups at the high end of the income distribution after the mid 1990s. The change is most clearly seen among those in the top income percentage. The 1993 Finnish tax reform introducing the Nordic dual income tax model, and creating strong incentives to shift labour income to capital income for those in the highest marginal tax brackets, is among the key policy decisions responsible for this trend. Interestingly enough, but consistent with the income shifting hypothesis, we find no increase in horizontal inequality in response to the introduction of the dual income tax.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Discussion Papers with number 460.

in new window

Date of creation: 17 Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fer:dpaper:460
Contact details of provider: Postal: Arkadiankatu 7, P.O. Box 1279, FI-00101 Helsinki
Phone: +358 295 519 400
Fax: +358 295 519 599
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Anthony B. Atkinson, 2000. "The Changing Distribution of Income: Evidence and Explanations," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(1), pages 3-18, 02.
  2. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  3. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-25, April.
  4. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
  5. Tomi Kyyrä & Mika Maliranta, 2006. "The Micro-Level Dynamics of Declining Labour Share: Lessons from the Finnish Great Leap," Discussion Papers 406, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  6. Marja Riihelä & Risto Sullström & Matti Tuomala, 2008. "Economic Poverty in Finland 1971–2004," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 57-77, Spring.
  7. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  8. Atkinson, A B, 1997. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 297-321, March.
  9. Marja Riihelä & Risto Sullström & Matti Tuomala, 2005. "Trends in Top Income Shares in Finland," Working Papers 0542, University of Tampere, School of Management, Economics.
  10. Thomas Piketty, 2003. "Income Inequality in France, 1901-1998," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1004-1042, October.
  11. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
  12. Tobias Lindhe & Jan Södersten & Ann �berg, 2004. "Economic Effects of Taxing Different Organizational Forms under the Nordic Dual Income Tax," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 469-485, 08.
  13. Lerman, Robert I & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1985. "Income Inequality Effects by Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 151-56, February.
  14. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Accounting for Inequality Trends: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1971-86," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 29-63, February.
  15. Johnson, Paul, 1996. "The Assessment: Inequality," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-14, Spring.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fer:dpaper:460. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anita Niskanen)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.