IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Redistribution Policy and Inequality Reduction in OECD Countries: What Has Changed in Two Decades?

Listed author(s):
  • Linda Richardson
  • Herwig Immervoll

    ()

We use a range of data sources to assess if, and to what extent, government redistribution policies have slowed or accelerated the trend towards greater income disparities in the past 20-25 years. In most countries, inequality among “non-elderly†households has widened during most phases of the economic cycle and any episodes of narrowing income differentials have usually not lasted long enough to close the gap between high and low incomes that had opened up previously. With progressive redistribution systems in place, greater inequality automatically leads to more redistribution, even if no policy action is taken. We find that, in the context of rising market-income inequality, tax-benefit systems have indeed become more redistributive since the 1980s but that this did not stop income inequality from rising: market-income inequality grew by twice as much as redistribution. Between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, the redistributive strength of tax-benefit systems then weakened in many countries. While growing market income disparities were the main driver of inequality trends between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, reduced redistribution was often the main reason why inequality rose in the ten years that followed. Benefits had a much stronger impact on inequality than social contributions or taxes, despite the much bigger aggregate size of direct taxes. As a result, redistribution policies were often less successful at counteracting growing income gaps in the upper parts of the income distribution.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.lisdatacenter.org/wps/liswps/571.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg in its series LIS Working papers with number 571.

as
in new window

Length: 89 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Publication status: Published in OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, no. 122 (2011), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg5dlkhjq0x-en
Handle: RePEc:lis:liswps:571
Contact details of provider: Postal:
11, Porte des Sciences, L-4366 Esch-Belval

Phone: +352 466 644 5950
Web page: http://www.lisdatacenter.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. André DECOSTER & Guy VAN CAMP, 2000. "Redistributive Effects of the Shift from Personal Income Taxes to Indirect Taxes: Belgium 1988-1993," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0007, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  2. Olivier Bargain & Tim Callan, 2010. "Analysing the effects of tax-benefit reforms on income distribution: a decomposition approach," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, March.
  3. Stéphane Carcillo & David Grubb, 2006. "From Inactivity to Work: The Role of Active Labour Market Policies," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 36, OECD Publishing.
  4. Immervoll, Herwig & Levy, Horacio & Lietz, Christine & Mantovani, Daniela & O'Donoghue, Cathal & Sutherland, Holly & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2005. "Household Incomes and Redistribution in the European Union: Quantifying the Equalising Properties of Taxes and Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 1824, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Olivier Bargain & Claire Keane, 2010. "Tax–Benefit‐revealed Redistributive Preferences Over Time: Ireland 1987–2005," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(s1), pages 141-167, December.
  6. Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "One Dollar, One Vote," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(553), pages 621-651, 06.
  7. Paul Gregg & Rosanna Scutella & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2010. "Reconciling workless measures at the individual and household level. Theory and evidence from the United States, Britain, Germany, Spain and Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 139-167, January.
  8. Herwig Immervoll, 2005. "Falling Up The Stairs: The Effects Of "Bracket Creep" On Household Incomes," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(1), pages 37-62, 03.
  9. Andrá Decoster & Guy Van Camp, 2001. "Redistributive effects of the shift from personal income taxes to indirect taxes: Belgium 1988-93," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 79-106, March.
  10. Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Immervoll, Herwig & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2011. "Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1978-2009: A Decomposition Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 5910, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Christopher Heady & Theodore Mitrakos & Panos Tsakloglou, 2001. "The distributional impact of social transfers in the European Union: evidence from the ECHP," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 547-565., December.
  12. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
  13. Stuart Adam & James Browne, 2010. "Redistribution, work incentives and thirty years of UK tax and benefit reform," IFS Working Papers W10/24, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  14. Anthony Atkinson & Thomas Piketty, 2010. "Top Incomes : A Global Perspective," Post-Print halshs-00754875, HAL.
  15. Immervoll, Herwig & Pearson, Mark, 2009. "A Good Time for Making Work Pay? Taking Stock of In-Work Benefits and Related Measures across the OECD," IZA Policy Papers 3, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Herwig Immervoll & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Sebastian Siegloch, 2015. "Tax Policy And Income Inequality In The United States, 1979–2007," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(2), pages 1061-1085, 04.
  17. Howard Glennerster, 2006. "Tibor Barna: the redistributive impact of taxes and social policies in the UK 1937-2005," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3880, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  18. Immervoll, Herwig, 2009. "Minimum-Income Benefits in OECD Countries: Policy Design, Effectiveness and Challenges," IZA Discussion Papers 4627, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Adam Wagstaff & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2001. "What Makes the Personal Income Tax Progressive? A Comparative Analysis for Fifteen OECD Countries," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(3), pages 299-316, May.
  20. Immervoll, Herwig & Llena-Nozal, Ana, 2011. "Social Policies for a Recovery," IZA Policy Papers 32, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2010. "Top Incomes: A Global Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286898.
  22. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  23. R. A. Musgrave & Tun Thin, 1948. "Income Tax Progression, 1929-48," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 498-498.
  24. Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Gini Indices and the Redistribution of Income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(2), pages 141-162, March.
  25. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1983. "On an Extension of the Gini Inequality Index," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(3), pages 617-628, October.
  26. Howard Glennerster, 2006. "Tibor Barna: The redistributive impact of taxes and social policies in the UK: 1937-2005," CASE Papers case115, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  27. Marja Riihelä & Risto Sullström & Ilpo Suoniemi, 2008. "Tax Progressivity and Recent Evolution of the Finnish Income Inequality," Discussion Papers 460, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  28. Herwig Immervoll & Pascal Marianna & Marco Mira d'Ercole, 2004. "Benefit Coverage Rates and Household Typologies: Scope and Limitations of Tax-Benefit Indicators," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 20, OECD Publishing.
  29. Anna Christina D'Addio & Herwig Immervoll, 2010. "Earnings of Men and Women Working in the Private Sector: Enriched Data for Pensions and Tax-Benefit Modeling," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 108, OECD Publishing.
  30. McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom, 1994. "Changes in the Structure of Family Income Inequality in the United States and Other Industrial Nationa During the 1980s," NBER Working Papers 4754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Dardanoni, Valentino & Lambert, Peter J., 2002. "Progressivity comparisons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 99-122, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lis:liswps:571. 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: (Piotr Paradowski)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.