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Growth is (really) good for the (really) rich

  • Campos-Vazquez, Raymundo M.
  • Chavez, Emmanuel
  • Esquivel, Gerardo

This paper analyzes the relationship between mean income and the income of the rich. Our methodology closely follows that of Dollar and Kraay (2002), but instead of looking at the bottom of the distribution, we analyze the top. We use panel data from the World Top Incomes database, which collects top income data from several countries using tax returns as the raw source. We define the “rich” as earners in the top 10 percent, 1 percent, 0.1 percent, and 0.01 percent of the income distribution. We find that economic growth is good for the rich in the sense that the mean income of the top decile of the distribution grows in the same proportion as that of the whole population. However, we also find that the income of earners in the top percentile of the distribution and above grows in an even larger proportion than average income: that is, economic growth is really good for the really rich. We also find that during economic downturns, the average income of top earners responds proportionally less to changes in mean income than during economic expansions. Our results are robust to different sample specifications.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 52488.

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Date of creation: Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52488
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  1. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2007. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 83(262), pages 247-261, 09.
  2. Andrews, Dan & Jencks, Christopher & Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "Do Rising Top Incomes Lift All Boats?," IZA Discussion Papers 4920, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
  4. Josh Bivens & Lawrence Mishel, 2013. "The Pay of Corporate Executives and Financial Professionals as Evidence of Rents in Top 1 Percent Incomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 57-78, Summer.
  5. Corak, Miles, 2013. "Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 7520, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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, 07.
  7. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "The Top 1 Percent in International and Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 3-20, Summer.
  8. Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Capital is back: wealth-income ratios in rich countries 1700-2010," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 66106, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. James E. Foster & Miguel Székely, 2001. "Is Economic Growth Good for the Poor?: Tracking Low Incomes Using General Means," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6486, Inter-American Development Bank.
  10. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2011. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," NBER Working Papers 17616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Malte Lübker & Graham Smith & John Weeks, 2002. "Growth and the poor: a comment on Dollar and Kraay," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(5), pages 555-571.
  12. Richard V. Burkhauser & Markus H. Hahn & Roger Wilkins, 2013. "Measuring Top Incomes Using Tax Record Data: A Cautionary Tale from Australia," NBER Working Papers 19121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective," NBER Working Papers 11955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. James M. Poterba, 1993. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote93-1, 07.
  15. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
  16. Austan Goolsbee, 1999. "Evidence on the High-Income Laffer Curve from Six Decades of Tax Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 1-64.
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