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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. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P., 2000. "LINDA - Longitudinal INdividual DAta for Sweden," Papers 2000:19, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2017. "Women in Top Incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1974-2013," Working Paper Series 5/2017, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    2. Bastani, Spencer & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "How Should Capital Be Taxed? Theory and Evidence from Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 11475, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Annette Alstadsæter & Martin Jacob & Wojciech Kopczuk & Kjetil Telle, 2016. "Accounting for Business Income in Measuring Top Income Shares: Integrated Accrual Approach Using Individual and Firm Data from Norway," NBER Working Papers 22888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Roberto Iacono & Elisa Palagi, 2020. "Still the lands of equality? On the heterogeneity of individual factor income shares in the Nordics," LEM Papers Series 2020/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    5. Madsen, Jakob B., 2019. "Wealth and inequality over eight centuries of British capitalism," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 246-260.
    6. Munk, Martin D. & Bonke, Jens & Hussain, M. Azhar, 2016. "Intergenerational top income persistence: Denmark half the size of Sweden," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 31-33.
    7. Gustafsson, Björn Anders & Katz, Katarina & Österberg, Torun, 2016. "Residential Segregation from Generation to Generation: Intergenerational Association in Socio-Spatial Context among Visible Minorities and the Majority Population in Metropolitan Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 9837, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Fairfield, Tasha & Jorratt, Michel, 2014. "Top income shares, business profits, and effective tax rates in contemporary Chile," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 56016, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2018. "How should capital be taxed? The Swedish experience," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02878153, HAL.
    10. MADSEN, Jakob B, 2018. "Is Inequality Increasing in r-g? The Dynamics of Capital’s Income Share in the UK, 1210-2013," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-70, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    11. Dmitry Kuvshinov & Kaspar Zimmermann, 2018. "The Big Bang: Stock Market Capitalization in the Long Run," Working Papers 0136, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    12. Ramón E. López & Eugenio Figueroa B. & Pablo Gutiérrez C., 2016. "Fundamental accrued capital gains and the measurement of top incomes: an application to Chile," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 14(4), pages 379-394, December.
    13. Katharina Jenderny, 2016. "Mobility of Top Incomes in Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62(2), pages 245-265, June.
    14. Jacob, Martin, 2011. "Tax Regimes and Capital Gains Realizations," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2011:9, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    15. Jakob Brochner Madsen, 2016. "Wealth And Inequality In Eight Centuries Of British Capitalism," Monash Economics Working Papers 20-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    16. Dirk Bezemer & Anna Samarina, 2019. "Debt shift, financial development and income inequality," DNB Working Papers 646, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    17. Roman Bobilev & Anne Boschini & Jesper Roine, 2020. "Women in the Top of the Income Distribution: What Can We Learn From LIS-Data?," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 63-107, March.
    18. Bezemer, Dirk & Samarina, Anna, 2016. "Debt Shift, Financial Development and Income Inequality in Europe," Research Report 16020-GEM, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    19. Frank A. Cowell & Philippe Kerm, 2015. "Wealth Inequality: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 671-710, September.
    20. Branko Milanovic & Tasha Fairfield & Michel Jorratt De Luis, 2016. "Top Income Shares, Business Profits, and Effective Tax Rates in Contemporary Chile," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62, pages 120-144, August.
    21. Enrico Rubolino & Daniel Waldenström, 2019. "Trends and gradients in top tax elasticities: cross-country evidence, 1900–2014," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(3), pages 457-485, June.
    22. Björklund, Anders & Waldenström, Daniel, 2021. "Facts and Myths in the Popular Debate about Inequality in Sweden," Working Paper Series 1392, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    23. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2020. "Women in top incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1971–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    24. Kuvshinov, Dmitry & Zimmermann, Kaspar, 2018. "The Big Bang: Stock Market Capitalization in the Long Run," MPRA Paper 88581, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    25. Kuvshinov, Dmitry & Zimmermann, Kaspar, 2018. "The big bang: Stock market capitalization in the long run," IBF Paper Series 02-18, IBF – Institut für Bank- und Finanzgeschichte / Institute for Banking and Financial History, Frankfurt am Main.

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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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