Anthony B. Atkinson's research while affiliated with European School Of Economics and other places

Publications (74)

Article
This paper finds that capital and labor incomes in the United States have become more closely associated since the 1980s. This contributed to the well-known increase in the top 1% share of total income, exacerbating rising inequality in capital incomes and earnings. We show that the trend in the association is U-shaped as the recent increase contra...
Article
Full-text available
There have been important studies of recent income inequality and of poverty in South Africa, but very little is known about the long-run trends over time. There is speculation about the extent of inequality when the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, but no hard evidence. In this paper, we provide evidence that is partial—being confined to...
Article
Most evidence on the long-run evolution of income inequality is restricted to top income shares. While this evidence is relevant and important for studying the concentration of economic power, it is incomplete as an informational basis for analysing inequality in the income distribution as a whole. This paper proposes a non-parametric approach for...
Article
Full-text available
Personal wealth has grown since the 1970s twice as fast in real terms as national income. Has this rise in the wealth-income ratio led to a corresponding increase in the wealth being passed on from one generation to the next? Are we returning to the levels of inheritance found in the 19th century? The aim of this paper is to construct UK evidence o...
Article
Full-text available
Public debates about the rise in top income shares often focus on the growing dispersion in earnings, and the soaring pay for top executives and financial-sector employees. But can the change in the marginal distribution of earnings on its own explain the rise in top income shares? Are top executives replacing capital owners in the group of top-inc...
Article
Full-text available
In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over to total incomes? This paper investigates the gender divide at the top of the income distribution using tax record data for eight countries with individual taxation. It sho...
Article
Recent research highlighted controversy about the evolution of concentration of personal wealth. In this paper we provide new evidence about the long-run evolution of top wealth shares for the United Kingdom. The new series covers a long period – from 1895 to the present – and has a different point of departure from the previous literature: we star...
Article
Full-text available
Atkinson’s book Inequality: What Can Be Done? (Harvard University Press, 2015) sets out a range of concrete proposals aimed at reducing income inequality, which cover a very broad span but include major changes to the income tax and social transfers system and the minimum wage. These are framed with specific reference to the UK but have much broade...
Article
Full-text available
Charitable bequests are a major source of income for charities but surprisingly little is known about them. The aim of this paper is to propose a multi-stage framework for analysing the bequest decision and to examine the evidence for Great Britain provided by new data on estates. The novelty of the framework is that it distinguishes between the di...
Article
We are very sad to report that Professor Sir Tony Atkinson died on the first of January, 2017, at the age of 72. Tony Atkinson was an extraordinarily distinguished academic whose works changed our understanding of poverty, inequality, mobility, public policy, and economic growth. His publications, from his first book in 1969 to his last in 2015, sh...
Article
Economic inequality is high on the political agenda, being held responsible for the rise of protest movements and for rejection of the political status quo. Yet we lack concrete proposals for reducing inequality. There is widespread gloom that little can be done. In this article, I put forward a set of measures for tackling inequality. If we want t...
Preprint
In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. How many of the top 1 and 10 per cent are women? A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over to the distribution of total incomes, bringing self-employment and capital income into the picture? We investigate the gend...
Preprint
The concentration of personal wealth is now receiving a great deal of attention - after having been neglected for many years. One reason is the growing recognition that, in seeking explanations for rising income inequality, we need to look not only at wages and earned income but also at income from capital, particularly at the top of the distributi...
Article
Full-text available
The concentration of personal wealth is now receiving a great deal of attention – after having been neglected for many years. One reason is the growing recognition that, in seeking explanations for rising income inequality, we need to look not only at wages and earned income but also at income from capital, particularly at the top of the distributi...
Article
In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. How many of the top 1 and 10 per cent are women? A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over to the distribution of total incomes, bringing selfemployment and capital income into the picture? We investigate the gende...
Article
We use historical publications and micro data from the tax returns to construct internationally comparable estimates of the development in income inequality in Denmark over the last 140 years. The study shows that income inequality and top income shares have declined during several distinct phases in between periods of stability. Furthermore the qu...
Article
The public debate about inequality has generated a sense of gloom and doom—that high levels of inequality are inevitable and that little can be done. The aim of this paper is to inject a more optimistic note. I argue that there have been periods in the past when income inequality was reduced and we can learn from these, that the textbook story of t...
Article
Recent debate has suggested that growing levels or high levels of inequality may be systematically associated with the occurrence of banking crises. Using the updated version of the Chartbook of Economic Inequality, this paper provides new empirical evidence on the ‘level’ hypothesis and reassesses the empirical validity of the ‘growth’ hypothesis....
Article
In this paper, I take Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty as the starting point for a set of twelve policy proposals that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income towards less inequality. In designing the set of proposals, I draw on the experience of reducing inequality in postwar Europe and on an analysis a...
Article
The purpose of this Chartbook is to present a summary of evidence about long-run changes in economic inequality - primarily income, earnings, and wealth - for 25 countries covering more than one hundred years. There is a range of countries and they account for more than a third of the world's population: Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Finlan...
Article
World leaders have come to recognise the challenge posed by high and rising economic inequality. This paper asks how Europe can address excessive inequality. It argues that we should learn from the lessons of history; there have been significant periods in the past when inequality fell. We can make use of economic analysis, drawing on both recent a...
Article
Taxation data have been used to create long-run series for the distribution of top incomes in quite a number of countries. Most of these studies have focused on the national experience of individual countries, but we can also learn from cross-country comparisons. Comparative analysis is therefore the next stage in the research program. At the same...
Article
The top 1 percent income share has more than doubled in the United States over the last thirty years, drawing much public attention in recent years. While other English speaking countries have also experienced sharp increases in the top 1 percent income share, many high-income countries such as Japan, France, or Germany have seen much less increase...
Article
In this first lecture in honour of Amartya Sen, I examine the lessons that can be drawn from The Idea of Justice for public economics and the extent to which public economics has already moved in the direction advocated by Sen. More specifically, I focus on the current fiscal austerity programmes, and how the tools of public economics can be used t...
Article
The Mirrlees Review of taxation in the United Kingdom is a landmark in the analysis of U.K. fiscal policy, and of wide interest to public finance economists around the world. This review concentrates on what we can learn from the Review about the current state of public economics and directions for future research.
Article
Lateral thinking led to results on the measurement of risk being applied to the problem of measuring income inequality. In this, and in other areas of economics, lateral thinking has made a significant contribution. At the same time, there are dangers. The parallel may be deceptive. The paper examines two ways in which a straightforward translation...
Article
Full-text available
Much of the change in individual earnings has occurred at the top. This paper provides new evidence about the earnings distribution in the UK. The evidence is new in that it provides detail about what has happened within the top 10%, covering groups such as the top 1% and the top 0.5%. The aim is to set the recent rise in top earnings in historical...
Article
This paper argues that welfare economics should be restored to a prominent place on the agenda of economists, and should occupy a central role in the teaching of economics. Economists should provide justification for the ethical criteria underlying welfare statements, and these criteria require constant re-evaluation in the light of developments in...
Article
Sustainability for a society means long-term viability, but also the ability to cope with economic crises and disasters. Just as with natural disasters, we can minimize the chance of them occurring and set in place policies to protect the world’s citizens against their consequences. This paper is concerned with the impact of economic crises on the...
Article
There have been important studies of overall income inequality and of poverty in South Africa. In this paper, we approach the subject from a different direction: the extent and evolution of top incomes. We present estimates of the shares in total income of groups such as the top 1 per cent and the top 0.1 per cent, covering, with gaps, more than a...
Article
The use of taxation data to create long-run top incomes series for several developed nations has led to speculation about the factors driving fluctuations in these series. We combine the series for five Anglo-Saxon countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. Across these five countries, the shares of the very richest exhibit a st...
Article
Data from the Irish Census of Industrial Production are used to illuminate changes in the distribution of earnings from 1937 to 1968, an important period in Irish economic history, relevant to debates about globalization and inequality. Between the late 1930s and mid-1950s there was a greater compression of earnings than in the US's ‘great compress...
Article
Full-text available
The paper examines three issues in the identification of a possible “middle class” using data from LIS. It considers first definitions based purely on income, examining the rationale for different approaches and illustrating the implications for changes over time. It argues that any interpretation in terms of “class” requires the examination of dim...
Article
A recent literature has constructed top income shares time series over the long run for more than twenty countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very significant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth per capita and Gini inequality indexes are sensitive...
Article
Economists frequently make judgments about economic welfare, but there is today little discussion of the foundations of welfare economics. It is assumed either that there is unanimity of interests, or that there is general acceptance of utilitarianism. This means that economics cannot address many key policy issues and that important differences in...
Article
Remarkable numbers of people give to overseas development charities. The aim of this paper is to consider how such overseas giving is best modelled and the implications for public policy. Widely used theories of charitable giving, based on warm-glow or the provision of public goods, provide insight but are not fully satisfactory as explanations of...
Article
This paper identifies three reasons for studying factor shares: to make a link between incomes at the macroeconomic level (national accounts) and incomes at the level of the household; to help understand inequality in the personal distribution of income; and to address the concern of social justice with the fairness of different sources of income....
Article
Full-text available
This paper takes income distribution as a case study of the role of data in economics. After describing the transformation which has taken place with regard to the availability of data on income inequality, it discusses how the comparability of these estimates is brought into question by differences in methodology that cannot be eliminated by simpl...
Article
Full-text available
Charitable bequests are a major source of income for charities. But surprisingly little is known in Britain about them. We review the small British and larger US literatures and then consider how best to model the decision to make a charitable bequest. We identify three stages: making a will, including a charity as a potential beneficiary, and bequ...
Article
Charitable giving for overseas development and emergency relief is important in the UK, being about a quarter of the size of government development aid. There has been a strong growth over time, reflecting the activities of development charities and the public response to a series of humanitarian emergencies. This paper examines how individual over...
Article
There is little evidence on unemployment duration and its determinants in developing countries. This study is on the duration aspect of unemployment in a developing country, Turkey. We analyze the determinants of the probability of leaving unemployment for employment or the hazard rate. The effects of the personal and household characteristics and...
Article
This article is concerned both with the substantive policy issue of the implications of the European welfare state in a global setting and with the way in which economists analyse the welfare state. Economics has made a major contribution to our understanding of the welfare state through the provision of formal models. These have allowed us to see...
Article
Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in New Zealand over the period 1921-2005. We find that the income share of the richest fell during the 1930s, rose again after the Second World War, and steadily declined from the late-1950s until the mid-1980s. From the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, top income share...
Article
Résumé. Il est généralement admis que les inégalités salariales se sont fortement accentuées dans les pays de l'OCDE depuis 1980. L'explication habituelle est la hausse constante de la demande de travail qualifié, due au progrès technique favorisant les qualifications, et l'exposition de la main-d'æuvre non qualifiée à la concurrence internationale...
Article
Está muy extendida la opinión de que la desigualdad de ingresos ha aumentado en los países de la Organización de Cooperación y Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE) desde 1980. Se piensa que ello se debe al cambio tecnológico favorable al trabajo especializado, al crecimiento relativo de la demanda de trabajadores cualificados y a la competencia internacion...
Book
This book is about how much people earn and why the distribution of earnings has been changing over time. The gap between the top and bottom in the United States has widened significantly since 1980. Why has this happened? Is it due to new technologies? What is the role of globalisation? Are there historical precedents? The book begins with the "ra...
Article
Graph. Earnings inequality in the OECD countries is commonly seen to have widened considerably since 1980 - and this is generally explained by the steady increase in relative demand for skilled labour due to skill-biased technical change and the growing exposure of unskilled workers to international competition through globalization. But this singl...
Article
Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in Australia over the period 1921-2003. We find that the income share of the richest fell from the 1920s until the mid-1940s, rose briefly in the postwar decade, and then declined until the early 1980s. During the 1980s and 1990s, top income shares rose rapidly. At th...
Article
The aim of this paper is to examine the concentration of wealth among the group of top wealth holders, defined as those with wealth in excess of a high cut off. The paper begins by considering the definition of this cut off, analogous to the definition of a poverty line at the other end of the distribution. It then considers what can be learned abo...
Article
Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in New Zealand over the period 1921-2002. We find that the income share of the richest fell during the 1930s, rose again after World War II, and steadily declined from the late-1950s until the mid-1980s. From the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, top income shares rose r...
Article
Full-text available
A method is developed for using income-tax data to investigate the evolution of the highest incomes over virtually the entire 20th century. The income shares of the top 10, 5, 1, 0.5, 0.1, and 0.05 percent are analysed for the UK and the Netherlands. For considering the top shares among themselves the "Pareto-Lorenz coefficient" is proposed. Betwee...
Article
Comparing the distribution of top incomes across countries raises many methodological problems, including differences in tax legislation and in tax avoidance, the definition of the income unit, and the definition of a control total for income. The paper considers the significance of these problems in three applications: comparing top income shares...
Article
Full-text available
This chapter considers the challenge of advancing the Social Inclusion Process in the context of the re-focused Lisbon Strategy, and of embedding the Process in domestic policies and implementing a social-inclusion mainstreaming through establishing a scheme of systematic policy assessments at EU, national, and sub-national levels. It proposes the...
Chapter
The key points to emerge from the book are drawn together and summarised in a table that presents the main conclusions reached in regard to the seven proposals for new sources of development finance that have been examined. For each proposal, the table provides a brief description, outlines potential to fund development, any double dividend and cos...
Article
Internationally comparable data are essential to our understanding of income inequality and its impact on our societies. The Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) has played a key role in raising to a new level such comparative analysis, and its collection of microdata has been used by a wide range of social scientists. The contribution of LIS over the pas...
Article
Full-text available
The recent rise in income inequality in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) has to be seen in both international and historical context. Rising income inequality in Anglo-Saxon countries has not necessarily been followed in other OECD countries. The Netherlands is of particular interest on this account, since it has seen an impressiv...

Citations

... In case of Norway's top 10% share, the effect of natural resources on income inequality is negative, except one large spike in 2005 but this has been caused by the announcement of tax reform. The tax on dividends increased as of 2006 giving the incentive to increase the payment of dividends in 2005 (Aaberge et al. 2017).Therefore, our results suggest that natural resources decrease income inequality or that have no effect. ...
... 31 Second, the composition of the top income earners changed in 2005 as a result of a preannounced tax reform implemented in 2006. 32 However, by aggregating income across 5 years, the implications of this change were reduced. Third, the approach used in this study did not account for income mobility occurring between the ages of 40 to 63 years (ie, that some individuals move to other income groups during this time). ...
... For example, the literature on the functional distribution of income and related accounts of the changing shares of capital and labour incomes show how the personal distribution of income is shaped by different evolutions of factor prices (e.g. Glyn, 2009;Piketty, 2014;Atkinson and Lakner, 2017;Aaberge, Atkinson and Königs, 2018). Second, households typically receive incomes from multiple sources. ...
... In a follow-up paper, García-Gomez et al. [21] extend the analysis for 28 European countries between 2008 and 2014. Atkinson and Lakner [9] consider the dependence between top labour and capital incomes in the United States between 1962 and 2006, and Aaberge et al. [1] look at the case of Norway between 1995 and 2005. The paper by Pérez and Prieto-Alaiz [41] is arguably closest to the current one in terms of dependence measures used. ...
... Within the field of youth sport, three trends are evident: rising inequality in club sport participation (Nobis & El-Kayed, 2019;Vandermeerschen et al., 2016), emphasis on individualistic over social and competitive motives , and the rise of fitness gyms (Laine & Vehmas, 2017;. These trends also apply to Norway: rising inequality (Aaberge et al., 2020;Halvorsen & Stjernø, 2021) and individualisation (Aakvaag, 2013b;Lorentzen, 2004) in society, and rising individualisation (shifting motives and emerging fitness) (Seippel, 2020a) and inequality (Strandbu et al., 2017a) in sport participation. ...
... Other authors, among them Anthony Atkinson, Facundo Alvaredo, and their coauthors, estimate income inequality based on tabulated tax data (Alvaredo 2010;Alvaredo and Atkinson 2010;Atkinson 2014Atkinson , 2015aAtkinson , 2015bAtkinson , 2015cSouza 2016;Alvaredo, Cogneau, and Piketty 2021). This methodology is not devoid of issues, as reliance on tax registers obscures the issue of tax evasion. ...
... Research on the rise of top incomes, although a hot topic in the study of labor income dynamics, pays very little attention to gender (Atkinson, Casarico, and Voitchovsky 2018;Boschini, Gunnarsson, and Roine 2020). The opposite is true as well-the examination of the gender pay gap and the exclusion of women from high-paying positions is often detached from the broader dynamics of earnings inequality. ...
... Data on standard inequality measures, such as the Gini coefficient or wealth/income shares, clearly indicate that inequality has increased since the 1980s in many areas of the world [1]. Potential contributing factors include globalisation, financialisation, decreased taxes, increased tax evasion and avoidance, increased inheritance and domination of the technological sector [33,1,3]. In this paper we summarise these multitude of factors into an idealised growth model for household wealth, dominated by one simple effect: that the wealthier you are, the higher your rate of return (ROR), i.e. the return on wealth you are likely to receive grows superlinearly with wealth. ...
... In particular, we analyze the association between the two financial resources throughout the entire distribution and measure its contribution to inequality. Our analysis contributes to the nascent literature on the joint distribution of income and wealth that focuses mainly on the incidence of the jointly income rich and asset rich such as Roine and Waldenström (2008), Aaberge et al. (2018), Fisher et al. (2017), or Berman and Milanovic (2020). One notable exception is Jäntti et al. (2015) who find a positive association between income and wealth throughout the distribution and across countries using survey data. ...
... Only a few longitudinal surveys are available for a specific period and a specific country ( Fisher et al., 2016Kopczuk et al., 2010). In fact, data availability on wealth inequality is not much better due to the lack of observations on the richest ( Alvaredo et al., 2018 ). Any inductive reasoning is ultimately restricted by observable evidence, but can we say anything about the factors that affect wealth inequality and social mobility without a complete dataset of empirical observations? ...