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Top Incomes and the Great Recession: Recent Evolutions and Policy Implications


  • Thomas Piketty

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris)

  • Emmanuel Saez

    (University of California [Berkeley])


This paper presents new findings from the World Top Incomes Database and discusses some of their policy implications. In particular, the paper provides updated top income series for the United States--including new estimates through 2010, showing a strong rebound of the top 1 percent income share, following the 2008-09 sharp fall. It also presents updated income series for other developed countries (including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan) and new series on wealth-income ratios. In light of this extended set of country series, the paper analyzes the relative importance of market and institutional forces in explaining observed cross-country trends, and the likely impact of the Great recession on these long-term evolutions. It discusses the policy implications of the findings, both in terms of optimal tax policy and regarding the interplay between inequality and macroeconomic fragility.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Top Incomes and the Great Recession: Recent Evolutions and Policy Implications," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00879814, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseose:halshs-00879814
    DOI: 10.1057/imfer.2013.14
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

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    Top incomes; Recession;


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