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On the Role of Capital Gains in Swedish Income Inequality

Author

Listed:
  • Roine, Jesper

    (SITE, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Waldenström, Daniel

    (Uppsala Center for Labor Studies)

Abstract

Realized capital gains are typically disregarded in the study of income inequality. We show that in the case of Sweden this severely underestimates the actual increase in inequality and, in particular, top income shares during recent decades. Using micro panel data to average incomes over longer periods and re-rank individuals according to income excluding capital gains, we show that capital gains indeed are a reoccurring addition to rather than a transitory component in top incomes. Doing the same for lower income groups, however, makes virtually no difference. We also try to find the roots of the recent surge in capital gains-driven inequality in Sweden since the 1980s. While there are no evident changes in terms of who earns these gains (high wage earners vs. top capital income earners), the primary driver instead seems to be the drastic asset price increases on the post-1980 deregulated financial markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2011. "On the Role of Capital Gains in Swedish Income Inequality," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2011:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uulswp:2011_008
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2005. "Top Incomes in Sweden over the Twentieth Century," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 602, Stockholm School of Economics.
    2. Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2008. "The evolution of top incomes in an egalitarian society: Sweden, 1903-2004," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 366-387, February.
    3. Burman, Leonard E. & Ricoy, Peter D., 1997. "Capital Gains and the People Who Realize Them," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(3), pages 427-51, September.
    4. Anthony Atkinson & Thomas Piketty, 2010. "Top Incomes : A Global Perspective," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-00754875, HAL.
    5. Anthony Atkinson & Thomas Piketty, 2007. "Top incomes over the twentieth century: A contrast between continental european and english-speaking countries," Post-Print halshs-00754859, HAL.
    6. Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Top Incomes in the United States and Canada Over the Twentieth Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 402-411, 04/05.
    7. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P., 2000. "LINDA - Longitudinal INdividual DAta for Sweden," Papers 2000:19, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    8. Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenström, 2011. "Common Trends and Shocks to Top Incomes: A Structural Breaks Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 832-846, August.
    9. Richard B. Freeman & Birgitta Swedenborg & Robert Topel, 2010. "Reforming the Welfare State: Recovery and Beyond in Sweden," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free05-1.
    10. Assar Lindbeck, 1997. "The Swedish Experiment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1273-1319, September.
    11. Richard B. Freeman & Robert Topel & Birgitta Swedenborg, 1997. "The Welfare State in Transition: Reforming the Swedish Model," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free97-1.
    12. Chiaki Moriguchi & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Income Concentration in Japan, 1886-2002: Evidence from Income Tax Statistics," NBER Working Papers 12558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2010. "Inequality Trends in Sweden 1978-2004," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 179-208, January.
    14. Freeman, Richard B. & Topel, Robert H. & Swedenborg, Birgitta (ed.), 1997. "The Welfare State in Transition," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226261782, December.
    15. Freeman, Richard B. & Swedenborg, Birgitta & Topel, Robert H. (ed.), 2010. "Reforming the Welfare State," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226261928, December.
    16. Burman, Leonard E. & Ricoy, Peter D., 1997. "Capital Gains and the People Who Realize Them," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 50(3), pages 427-451, September.
    17. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2007. "Top Incomes Over the Twentieth Century: A Contrast Between Continental European and English-Speaking Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286881.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Top incomes; Income inequality; Capital gains; Capital income; Sweden; Welfare state;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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