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Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts

Author

Listed:
  • Bertrand Garbinti

    (Banque de France)

  • Jonathan Goupille-Lebret

    (Paris School of Economics)

  • Thomas Piketty

    (Paris School of Economics)

Abstract

This paper presents "Distributional National Accounts" (DINA) for France. That is, we combine national accounts, tax and survey data in a comprehensive and consistent manner to build homogenous annual series on the distribution of national income by percentiles over the 1900-2014 period, with detailed breakdown by age, gender and income categories over the 1970-2014 period. Our DINA-based estimates allow for a much richer analysis of the long-run pattern found in previous tax-based series, i.e. a long-run decline in income inequality, largely due to a sharp drop in the concentration of wealth and capital income following the 1914-1945 capital shocks. First, our new series deliver higher inequality levels than the usual tax-based series for the recent decades, because the latter miss a rising part of capital income. Growth incidence curves look dramatically different for the 1950-1983 and 1983-2014 sub-periods. We also show that it has become increasingly difficult in recent decades to access top wealth groups with labor income only. Next, gender inequality in labor income declined in recent decades, albeit fairly slowly among top labor incomes E.g. female share among top 0.1% earners was only 12% in 2012 (vs. 7% in 1994 and 5% in 1970). Finally, we find that distributional changes can have large impact on comparisons of well-being across countries. E.g. average pre-tax income among bottom 50% adults is 30% larger in France than in the U.S., in spite of the fact that aggregate per adult national income is 30% smaller in France.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts," Working Papers 201704, World Inequality Lab.
  • Handle: RePEc:wel:wpaper:201704
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2021. "Accounting for Wealth-Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates, and Simulations for France," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 620-663.
    2. Thomas Blanchet & Juliette Fournier & Thomas Piketty, 2022. "Generalized Pareto Curves: Theory and Applications," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 68(1), pages 263-288, March.
    3. Thomas Piketty, 2011. "On the Long-Run Evolution of Inheritance: France 1820--2050," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1071-1131.
    4. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Appendix to "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States"," Working Papers 201604, World Inequality Lab.
    5. 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.
    6. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 553-609.
    7. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Appendix to "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts"," Working Papers 201705, World Inequality Lab.
    8. Dennis Fixler & David S. Johnson, 2014. "Accounting for the Distribution of Income in the U.S. National Accounts," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Economic Sustainability and Progress, pages 213-244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2016. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)," PSE Working Papers halshs-02794339, HAL.
    10. Facundo Alvaredo & Bertrand Garbinti & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "On the Share of Inheritance in Aggregate Wealth: Europe and the USA, 1900–2010," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 239-260, April.
    11. Antoine Bozio & Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Malka Guillot & Thomas Piketty, 2018. "Inequality and Redistribution in France," Post-Print halshs-01984502, HAL.
    12. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2021. "Accounting for Wealth-Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates, and Simulations for France," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 620-663.
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