IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp8157.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Long-Run Trends in the Distribution of Income and Wealth

Author

Listed:
  • Roine, Jesper

    (Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics)

  • Waldenström, Daniel

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Stockholm)

Abstract

This paper reviews the long run developments in the distribution of personal income and wealth. It also discusses suggested explanations for the observed patterns. We try to answer questions such as: What do we know, and how do we know, about the distribution of income and wealth over time? Are there common trends across countries or over the path of development? How do the facts relate to proposed theories about changes in inequality? We present the main inequality trends, in some cases starting as early as in the late eighteenth century, combining previous research with recent findings in the so-called top income literature and new evidence on wealth concentration. The picture that emerges shows that inequality was historically high almost everywhere at the beginning of the twentieth century. In some countries this situation was preceded by increasing concentration, but in most cases inequality seems to have been relatively constant at a high level in the nineteenth century. Over the twentieth century inequality decreased almost everywhere for the first 80 years, largely due to decreasing wealth concentration and decreasing capital incomes in the top of the distribution. Thereafter trends are more divergent across countries and also different across income and wealth distributions. Econometric evidence over the long run suggests that top shares increase in periods of above average growth while democracy and high marginal tax rates are associated with lower top shares.

Suggested Citation

  • Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2014. "Long-Run Trends in the Distribution of Income and Wealth," IZA Discussion Papers 8157, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8157
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://docs.iza.org/dp8157.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Anthony J. Venables, 2008. "Rethinking Economic Growth in a Globalizing World," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 28041.
    2. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 382-397, July.
    3. L. ALAN WINTERS & NEIL McCULLOCH & ANDREW McKAY, 2015. "Trade Liberalization and Poverty: The Evidence So Far," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Non-Tariff Barriers, Regionalism and Poverty Essays in Applied International Trade Analysis, chapter 14, pages 271-314, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Lee Soltow, 1968. "Long-Run Changes in British Income Inequality," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 21(1), pages 17-29, April.
    5. Matti Tuomala & Jouko Vilmunen, 1988. "On the trends over time in the degree of concentration of wealth in Finland," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 184-190, Autumn.
    6. Marko Tervio, 2008. "The Difference That CEOs Make: An Assignment Model Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 642-668, June.
    7. Edward N. Wolff, 2012. "The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class," NBER Working Papers 18559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Soltow, Lee, 1971. "Economic Inequality in the United States in the Period from 1790 to 1860," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(4), pages 822-839, December.
    9. Edward Wolff & Ajit Zacharias, 2009. "Household wealth and the measurement of economic well-being in the United States," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(2), pages 83-115, June.
    10. Wolff, Edward N., 2007. "The retirement wealth of the baby boom generation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-40, January.
    11. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "International Comparisons of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-451, December.
    12. Edward N. Wolff & Marcia Marley, 1989. "Long-Term Trends in U.S. Wealth Inequality: Methodological Issues and Results," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 765-844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Lee Soltow, 1981. "The Distribution of Property Values in England and Wales in 1798," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 34(1), pages 60-70, February.
    14. A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), 2002. "Handbook of Public Economics," Handbook of Public Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 4, number 4, December.
    15. Scheve, Kenneth & Stasavage, David, 2010. "The Conscription of Wealth: Mass Warfare and the Demand for Progressive Taxation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 529-561, October.
    16. A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), 2002. "Handbook of Public Economics," Handbook of Public Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3, December.
    17. Jeffrey G. Williamson & Peter H. Lindert, 1980. "Long-Term Trends in American Wealth Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: Modeling the Distribution and Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth, pages 9-94, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Anthony Barnes Atkinson, 2006. "Concentration among the Rich," WIDER Working Paper Series RP2006-151, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Tran, Chung & Wende, Sebastian, 2021. "On the marginal excess burden of taxation in an overlapping generations model," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    3. Filistrucchi, L. & Ozbugday, F.C., 2012. "Mandatory Quality Disclosure and Quality Supply : Evidence from German Hospitals," Other publications TiSEM 680b0e3e-d3f5-4b91-9803-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Montalvo, José G. & Piolatto, Amedeo & Raya, Josep, 2020. "Transaction-tax evasion in the housing market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    5. Nikolov, Plamen & Adelman, Alan, 2019. "Do private household transfers to the elderly respond to public pension benefits? Evidence from rural China," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 14(C).
    6. Desai, Mihir A. & Hines, James R. Jr., 2002. "Expectations and Expatriations: Tracing the Causes and Consequences of Corporate Inversions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 55(3), pages 409-440, September.
    7. Magda Iga & Kiełczewska Aneta & Brandt Nicola, 2020. "The effect of child benefit on female labor supply," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 10(1), pages 1-18, March.
    8. Carbonnier Cl´ement, 2014. "The incidence of non-linear consumption taxes," Научный результат. Серия «Экономические исследования», CyberLeninka;Федеральное государственное автономное образовательное учреждение высшего образования «Белгородский государственный национальный исследовательский университет», issue 1, pages 5-18.
    9. Auerbach, Alan & Kueng, Lorenz & Lee, Ronald & Yatsynovich, Yury, 2018. "Propagation and smoothing of shocks in alternative social security systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 91-105.
    10. Boone, Jan & Müller, Wieland, 2012. "The distribution of harm in price-fixing cases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 265-276.
    11. Jean-Pierre Laffargue, 2009. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Stability of Public Debt with Short-Lived Governments," Mathematical Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 79-104.
    12. Louis Kaplow, 2009. "Utility from Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 15595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Helliwell, John & Huang, Haifang, 2011. "New measures of the costs of unemployment: Evidence from the subjective well-being of 2.3 million Americans," Working Papers 2011-3, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    14. Håkan Selin, 2012. "Marginal Tax Rates and Tax‐Favoured Pension Savings of the Self‐Employed: Evidence from Sweden," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(1), pages 79-100, March.
    15. Giesecke, Matthias & Jäger, Philipp, 2021. "Pension incentives and labor supply: Evidence from the introduction of universal old-age assistance in the UK," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 203(C).
    16. Berriel, Tiago Couto & Zilberman, Eduardo, 2011. "Targeting the poor: a macroeconomic analysis of cash transfer programs," FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 726, EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil).
    17. Louis Kaplow, 2014. "Government Policy and Labor Supply with Myopic or Targeted Savings Decisions," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 29, pages 159-193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Keane, Claire & Walsh, John R. & Callan, Tim & Savage, Michael, 2012. "Property Tax in Ireland: Key Choices," Papers EC11, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    19. Andersen, Torben M. & Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Gestsson, Marias H., 2021. "Pareto-improving transition to fully funded pensions under myopia," Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 169-212, June.
    20. Nils aus dem Moore, 2014. "Taxes and Corporate Financing Decisions – Evidence from the Belgian ACE Reform," Ruhr Economic Papers 0533, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    top incomes; economic history; wealth distribution; income distribution; income inequality; welfare state; taxation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8157. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.