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Top Incomes and the Gender Divide

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  • A.B. Atkinson

    (Nuffield College, Oxford; London School of Economics; and INET at the Oxford Martin School)

  • A. Casarico

    (Università Bocconi; CESifo; and Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy)

  • S. Voitchovsky

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne; and Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)

Abstract

In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. How many of the top 1 and 10 per cent are women? A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over to the distribution of total incomes, bringing selfemployment and capital income into the picture? We investigate the gender divide at the top of the income distribution using tax record data for a sample of eight countries with individual taxation. We show that women are under-represented at the top of the distribution. They account for between a fifth and a third of those in the top 10 per cent. Higher up the income distribution, the proportion is lower, with women constituting between 14 and 22 per cent of the top 1 per cent. The presence of women in the top income groups has generally increased over time, but the rise becomes smaller at the very top. As a result, the gradient with income has become more marked: the under-representation of women today increases more sharply. Examination of the shape of the income distribution by fitting a Pareto distribution shows that at the end of the period women disappear faster than men as one moves up the income scale in all countries. In this sense, there appears to be something of a “glass ceiling” for women. In the case of Canada, Denmark, Norway and New Zealand, there appears to have been a reversal over time, with the slope of the upper tail having been steeper for women in the past. In seeking to explain this, we highlight the role of income composition, where we show that there have been significant changes over time, underlining the fact that it is not sufficient to look only at earned income.

Suggested Citation

  • A.B. Atkinson & A. Casarico & S. Voitchovsky, 2016. "Top Incomes and the Gender Divide," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n27, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2016n27
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Top Incomes and the Gender Divide
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-09-12 23:49:10

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    Cited by:

    1. Laurence Jacquet & Etienne Lehmann, 2017. "Optimal income taxation with composition effects," TEPP Working Paper 2017-04, TEPP.
    2. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States," NBER Working Papers 22945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:eee:labeco:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:107-123 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:jid:journl:y:2017:v:25:i:1:p:1-27 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Fortin, Nicole M. & Bell, Brian & Böhm, Michael, 2017. "Top earnings inequality and the gender pay gap: Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 107-123.
    6. repec:kap:jecinq:v:16:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10888-018-9386-x is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson & Sebastian Königs, 2018. "From classes to copulas: wages, capital, and top incomes," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 295-320, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Top income groups; gender; income composition;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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