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Why Is Europe More Equal Than the United States?

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  • Thomas Blanchet

    (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, WIL - World Inequality Lab, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - 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)

  • Lucas Chancel

    (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, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

  • Amory Gethin

    (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, WIL - World Inequality Lab, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - 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)

Abstract

We combine all available household surveys, income tax and national accounts data in a systematic manner to produce comparable pretax and posttax income inequality series in 38 European countries between 1980 and 2017. Our estimates are consistent with macroeconomic growth rates and comparable with US Distributional National Accounts. We find that inequalities rose in most European countries since 1980 both before and after taxes, but much less than in the US. Between 1980 and 2017, the European top 1% pretax income share rose from 8% to 11% while it rose from 11% to 21% in the US. Europe's lower inequality levels are mainly explained by a more equal distribution of pretax incomes rather than by more equalizing taxes and transfers systems. "Predistribution" is found to play a much larger role in explaining Europe's relative resistance to inequality than "redistribution": it accounts for between two-thirds and

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Blanchet & Lucas Chancel & Amory Gethin, 2020. "Why Is Europe More Equal Than the United States?," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-03022133, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wilwps:halshs-03022133
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03022133
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    1. Demetrio Guzzardi & Elisa Palagi & Tommaso Faccio & Andrea Roventini, 2023. "In search of lost time: An ensemble of policies to restore fiscal progressivity and address the climate challenge," LEM Papers Series 2023/28, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Brzezinski, Michal, 2022. "Does income redistribution impede innovation?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(10).
    3. Aroop Chatterjee & Léo Czajka & Amory Gethin, 2021. "Can Redistribution Keep Up with Inequality? Evidence from South Africa, 1993-2019," Working Papers halshs-03364039, HAL.
    4. Rafael Carranza & Marc Morgan & Brian Nolan, 2023. "Top Income Adjustments and Inequality: An Investigation of the EU‐SILC," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 69(3), pages 725-754, September.
    5. Calabuig, Vicente & Olcina, Gonzalo, 2023. "The elite, inequality and the emergence of progressive taxation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Stefan Ederer & Predrag Ćetković & Stefan Humer & Stefan Jestl & Emanuel List, 2022. "Distributional National Accounts (DINA) with Household Survey Data: Methodology and Results for European Countries," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 68(3), pages 667-688, September.
    7. Barriola, Illan & Deffains, Bruno & Musy, Olivier, 2023. "Law and inequality: A comparative approach to the distributive implications of legal systems," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    8. Chancel, Lucas & Cogneau, Denis & Gethin, Amory & Myczkowski, Alix & Robilliard, Anne-Sophie, 2023. "Income inequality in Africa, 1990–2019: Measurement, patterns, determinants," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    9. Mihail Arandarenko & Dušan Pavlović, 2023. "Egalitarianism And Redistributive Reform In Serbia After 2000," Economic Annals, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Belgrade, vol. 68(237), pages 7-36, April – J.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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