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The Increase in Income Cyclicality of High-Income Households and its Relation to the Rise in Top Income Shares

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  • Jonathan A. Parker
  • Annette Vissing-Jorgensen

Abstract

We document a large increase in the cyclicality of the incomes of high-income households, coinciding with the rise in their share of aggregate income. In the U.S., since top income shares began to rise rapidly in the early 1980s, incomes of those in the top 1 percent of the income distribution have averaged 14 times average income and been 2.4 times more cyclical. Before the early 1980s, incomes of the top 1 percent were slightly less cyclical than average. The increase in income cyclicality at the top is to a large extent due to increases in the share and the cyclicality of their earned income. The high cyclicality among top incomes is found for households without stock options; following the same households over time; for post-tax, post-transfer income; and for consumption. We study cyclicality throughout the income distribution and reconcile with earlier work. Furthermore, greater top income share is associated with greater top income cyclicality across recent decades, across subgroups of top income households, and, in changes, across countries. This suggests a common cause. We show theoretically that increases in the production scale of the most talented can raise both top incomes and their cyclicality.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan A. Parker & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2010. "The Increase in Income Cyclicality of High-Income Households and its Relation to the Rise in Top Income Shares," NBER Working Papers 16577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16577
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    Cited by:

    1. Marianne Bitler & Hilary Hoynes & Elira Kuka, 2017. "Child Poverty, the Great Recession, and the Social Safety Net in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(2), pages 358-389, March.
    2. Luc Renneboog & Christophe Spaenjers, 2013. "Buying Beauty: On Prices and Returns in the Art Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 36-53, February.
    3. Frederico Belo & Xiaoji Lin & Jun Li & Xiaofei Zhao, 2015. "Labor-Force Heterogeneity and Asset Prices: the Importance of Skilled Labor," NBER Working Papers 21487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Steven N. Kaplan, 2012. "Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance in the U.S.: Perceptions, Facts and Challenges," NBER Working Papers 18395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Fabio Ghironi & Karen K. Lewis, 2011. "Equity Sales and Manager Efficiency Across Firms and the Business Cycle," IMES Discussion Paper Series 11-E-07, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
    6. Jonathan A. Parker, 2013. "LEADS on Macroeconomic Risks to and from the Household Sector," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Topography: Systemic Risk and Macro Modeling, pages 183-203 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Lagakos, David & Ordoñez, Guillermo L., 2011. "Which workers get insurance within the firm?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 632-645.
    8. repec:eee:macchp:v2-255 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Steven N. Kaplan, 2013. "CEO Pay and Corporate Governance in the U.S.: Perceptions, Facts, and Challenges," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 25(2), pages 8-25, June.
    10. Kodrzycki, Yolanda, 2014. "Smoothing state tax revenues over the business cycle: gauging fiscal needs and opportunities," Working Papers 14-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    11. Mian, A. & Sufi, A., 2016. "Who Bears the Cost of Recessions? The Role of House Prices and Household Debt," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    12. repec:eee:ecolet:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:152-154 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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