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Do Rising Top Incomes Lift All Boats?

  • Andrews, Dan



  • Jencks, Christopher


    (Harvard Kennedy School)

  • Leigh, Andrew


    (Australian National University)

Pooling data for 1905 to 2000, we find no systematic relationship between top income shares and economic growth in a panel of 12 developed nations observed for between 22 and 85 years. After 1960, however, a one percentage point rise in the top decile's income share is associated with a statistically significant 0.12 point rise in GDP growth during the following year. This relationship is not driven by changes in either educational attainment or top tax rates. If the increase in inequality is permanent, the increase in growth appears to be permanent. However, our estimates imply that it would take 13 years for the cumulative positive effect of faster growth on the mean income of the bottom nine deciles to offset the negative effect of reducing their share of total income.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4920.

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Length: 61 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy: Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, 2011, 11, article 6
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4920
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