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The Top 1% in International and Historical Perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Facundo Alvaredo

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, Nuffield College - University of Oxford [Oxford], CONICET - Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas [Buenos Aires], Oxford University - University of Oxford [Oxford])

  • Anthony Atkinson

    (Nuffield College - University of Oxford [Oxford], LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Thomas Piketty

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

  • Emmanuel Saez

    (UCLA - University of California [Los Angeles] - UC - University of California)

Abstract

For three decades, the debate about rising income inequality in the United States has centered on the dispersion of wages and the increased premium for skilled/educated workers, attributed in varying proportions to skill-biased technological change and to globalization (for example, see Katz and Autor 1999 for a survey). In recent years, however, there has been a growing realization that most of the action has been at the very top. This has attracted a great deal of public attention (as witnessed by the number of visits to and press citations of our World Top Incomes Database at http://topincomes.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/) and has represented a challenge to the economics profession. Stories based on the supply and demand for skills are not enough to explain the extreme top tail of the earnings distribution; nor is it enough to look only at earned incomes. Different approaches are necessary to explain what has happened in the United States over the past century and also to explain the differing experience in other high-income countries over recent decades. We begin with the international comparison in the first section and then turn to the causes and implications of the evolution of top income shares.

Suggested Citation

  • Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "The Top 1% in International and Historical Perspective," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-00847231, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-00847231
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-00847231
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    Keywords

    Inequality; United States;

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