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Tax Reforms, Dividend Policy and Trends in Income Inequality Empirical Evidence based on Norwegian Data

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Abstract

This paper discusses the degree of intertemporal comparability of national estimates of income inequality when data are based on income tax records. The problem of comparability is particular crucial when major tax reforms have taken place and pre- and post-reform income data are used as basis for comparing trends in income inequality. Particular attention is paid to the definition and measurement of income from shares. The conventional wisdom that the increase in inequality in Norway during the 1990's was caused by a rising disequalizing contribution of capital income is questioned by the present results. The rise in income inequality coincided with the implementation of a major tax reform that affected the financing incentives in the corporate sector and the income shifting incentives in small enterprises. Thus, when tax reported dividends are used as a measurement of returns from shares, changes in the estimated income inequality may be a result of changes in the income reporting behavior rather than factual changes in the distribution of income. Our results suggest that the observed rise in income inequality during the 1990's to some extent can be explained by a change in the dividend policy of the corporations, induced by the tax reform in 1992. When the total return from shares is taken into account, we find less increase in the level of inequality and less increase in the contribution to inequality from share ownership.

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  • Erik Fjærli & Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Tax Reforms, Dividend Policy and Trends in Income Inequality Empirical Evidence based on Norwegian Data," Discussion Papers 284, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:284
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    File URL: https://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp284.pdf
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    1. Devereux, Michael P & Hubbard, R Glenn, 2003. "Taxing Multinationals," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(4), pages 469-487, August.
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    4. Aaberge, Rolf, et al, 2000. " Unemployment Shocks and Income Distribution: How Did the Nordic Countries Fare during Their Crises?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 77-99, March.
    5. Sinn, H.W., 1990. "Taxation And The Cost Of Capital: The "Old" View, And Another View," Papers 59, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
    6. Rolf Aaberge, 2007. "Gini’s nuclear family," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 5(3), pages 305-322, December.
    7. Martin Feldstein & James R. Hines Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "Taxing Multinational Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld95-1, June.
    8. Hicks, J. R., 1975. "Value and Capital: An Inquiry into some Fundamental Principles of Economic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780198282693.
    9. Roger H. Gordon & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "The Importance of Income Shifting to the Design and Analysis of Tax Policy," NBER Chapters,in: Taxing Multinational Corporations, pages 29-38 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aaberge, Rolf & Langørgen, Audun & Mogstad, Magne & Østensen, Marit, 2008. "The Impact of Local Public Services and Geographical Cost of Living Differences on Poverty Estimates," IZA Discussion Papers 3686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Rolf Aaberge & Magne Mogstad, 2011. "Robust inequality comparisons," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(3), pages 353-371, September.
    3. Cecilia García-Peñalosa & Elsa Orgiazzi, 2013. "Factor Components of Inequality: A Cross-Country Study," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(4), pages 689-727, December.
    4. Ingvild Almås & Tarjei Havnes & Magne Mogstad, 2010. "Baby Booming Inequality? Demographic Change and Earnings Inequality in Norway, 1967-2000," CESifo Working Paper Series 3200, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Rolf Aaberge & Magne Mogstad, 2006. "On the Definition and Measurement of Chronic Poverty," ICER Working Papers 36-2006, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    6. Rolf Aaberge, 2007. "Gini’s nuclear family," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 5(3), pages 305-322, December.
    7. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2008. "Top Incomes in Norway," Discussion Papers 552, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    8. Cecilia Garcia Peñalosa & Orgiazzi, E., 2011. "GINI DP 12: Factor Components of Inequality. A Cross-Country Study," GINI Discussion Papers 12, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    9. Ingvild Almås & Tarjei Havnes & Magne Mogstad, 2011. "Baby booming inequality? Demographic change and earnings inequality in Norway, 1967–2000," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(4), pages 629-650, December.
    10. Erling Røed Larsen, 2002. "Consumption Inequality in Norway in the 80s and 90s," Discussion Papers 325, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    11. Cecilia García-Peñalosa & Richard Breen & Elsa Orgiazzi, 2008. "Factor Components of Inequality: Cross-Country Differences and Time Changes," LIS Working papers 503, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income definition; capital income; corporate income; tax reform; income inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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