IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/9607.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Evolution of High Incomes in Canada, 1920-2000

Author

Listed:
  • Emmanuel Saez
  • Michael R. Veall

Abstract

This paper presents new homogeneous series on top shares of income from 1920 to 2000 in Canada using personal income tax return data. Top income shares display a U-shaped pattern over the century, with a precipitous drop during World War II, followed by a slower decline until 1970. Since the late 1970s, top income shares have been increasing steadily and the very top shares are now as high as in the pre-war era. As in the United States, the recent increase in top income shares is the consequence of a surge in top wages and salaries. As a result, series on the composition of incomes within the top income groups from 1946 to 2000 show a dramatic increase in the share of wages and salaries. The parallel evolution of top income shares in Canada and the United States, associated with much more modest marginal tax rate cuts in Canada, suggests that the upward trend in top shares in Canada since the late 1970s cannot be explained by tax cuts. Further evidence suggests that the upward trend in Canada derives from the United States, perhaps because many Canadians have an emigration option. A data appendix for this paper is available.

Suggested Citation

  • Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2003. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Canada, 1920-2000," NBER Working Papers 9607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9607 Note: PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9607.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
    2. Adolf Buse, 1982. "The Cyclical Behaviour of the Size Distribution of Income in Canada: 1947-78," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(2), pages 189-204, May.
    3. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 773-88, December.
    4. Richard Bird & Michael Smart, 2001. "Tax Policy and Tax Research in Canada," The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater,in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, pages 59-78 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    5. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
    6. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1953. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn53-1, January.
    7. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-41.
    8. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    10. Daniel R. Feenberg & James M. Poterba, 1993. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High-Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7, pages 145-177 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    12. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Sillamaa, Mary-Anne & Veall, Michael R., 2001. "The effect of marginal tax rates on taxable income: a panel study of the 1988 tax flattening in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 341-356, June.
    14. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-572, June.
    15. James M. Poterba & Daniel R. Feenberg, 2000. "The Income and Tax Share of Very High-Income Households, 1960-1995," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 264-270, May.
    16. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    17. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    19. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(4), pages 773-788, December.
    20. Charles M. Beach & Ross Finnie & David Gray, 2003. "Earnings Variability and Earnings Instability of Women and Men in Canada: How Do the 1990s Compare to the 1980s?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(s1), pages 41-64, January.
    21. Robert Gagné & Jean-François Nadeau & François Vaillancourt, 2000. "Taxpayers' Response to Tax Rate Changes: A Canadian Panel Study," CIRANO Working Papers 2000s-59, CIRANO.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Osberg, Lars, 2013. "Instability implications of increasing inequality: Evidence from North America," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 918-930.
    2. Brennan, Jordan, 2012. "NAFTA, Investiture and Redistribution. The Power Underpinnings of Trade and Investment Liberalization in Canada," EconStor Preprints 157833, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    3. Heiko Müller & Caren Sureth, 2009. "Income tax statistics analysis: A comparison of microsimulation versus group simulation," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 2(1), pages 32-48.
    4. Andrew Leigh, 2005. "Deriving Long-Run Inequality Series from Tax Data," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 81(s1), pages 58-70, August.
    5. Spencer Bastani & Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2013. "The Welfare Gains Of Age‐Related Optimal Income Taxation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54, pages 1219-1249, November.
    6. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin & Shenghao Zhu, 2011. "The Distribution of Wealth and Fiscal Policy in Economies With Finitely Lived Agents," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(1), pages 123-157, January.
    7. Robert Andersen & M. McIvor, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Canada," GINI Country Reports canada, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    8. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin, 2006. "The distribution of wealth and redistributive policies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001162, David K. Levine.
    9. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960-2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 117-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2008. "Top Incomes in Norway," Discussion Papers 552, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    11. A. B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2005. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in New Zealand," CEPR Discussion Papers 503, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

    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:nbr:nberwo:9607. 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: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.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 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.

    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.