Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic
and Social Research
University of Melbourne
Faculty of Business and Economics Building
Victoria 3010, Australia
Institutional Affiliation: University of Melbourne
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2020||What Accounts for the Rising Share of Women in the Top 1%?|
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The share of women in the top 1% of the UK’s income distribution has been growing over the last two decades (as in several other countries). Our first contribution is to account for this secular change using regressions of the probability of being in the top 1%, fitted separately for men and women, in order to contrast between the sexes the role of changes in characteristics and changes in returns to characteristics. We show that the rise of women in the top 1% is primarily accounted for by their greater increases (relative to men) in the number of years spent in full-time education. Although most top income analysis uses tax return data, we derive our findings taking advantage of the much more extensive information about personal characteristics that is available in survey data. Our use o...
|June 2017||Survey Under-Coverage of Top Incomes and Estimation of Inequality: What is the Role of the UK’s SPI Adjustment?|
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Survey under-coverage of top incomes leads to bias in survey-based estimates of overall income inequality. Using income tax record data in combination with survey data is a potential approach to address the problem; we consider here the UK’s pioneering ‘SPI adjustment’ method that implements this idea. Since 1992, the principal income distribution series (reported annually in Households Below Average Income) has been based on household survey data in which the incomes of a small number of ‘very rich’ individuals are adjusted using information from ‘very rich’ individuals in personal income tax return data. We explain what the procedure involves, reveal the extent to which it addresses survey under-coverage of top incomes, and show how it affects estimates of overall income inequality. More...
Published: Richard V. Burkhauser & Nicolas Hérault & Stephen P. Jenkins & Roger Wilkins, 2018. "Survey Under-Coverage of Top Incomes and Estimation of Inequality: What is the Role of the UK's SPI Adjustment?," Fiscal Studies, vol 39(2), pages 213-240. citation courtesy of
|February 2016||What has Been Happening to UK Income Inequality Since the Mid-1990s? Answers from Reconciled and Combined Household Survey and Tax Return Data|
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Estimates of UK income inequality trends differ substantially according to whether estimates are based on household survey data (used for official statistics) or tax return data (used in the top incomes literature). We reconcile differences in variable definitions and combine survey and tax return data in order to take advantage of the much better coverage of top incomes in the latter, and provide improved estimates of UK inequality trends since the mid-1990s. We show there was a marked increase in income inequality in the early 2000s that survey-based estimates do not reveal, and our conclusions are robust to changes in the definitions of income, income-sharing unit, and summary inequality measure. In addition, our reconciled and combined data provide more comparable estimates of UK-US in...
Published: Burkhauser, Richard V., Nicolas Hérault, Stephen Jenkins, and Roger Wilkins. 2018. “Top Incomes and Inequality in the UK: Reconciling Estimates from Household Survey and Tax Return Data.” Oxford Economic Papers, Vol. 70 (2): 301-326.
|June 2013||Measuring Top Incomes Using Tax Record Data: A Cautionary Tale from Australia|
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Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez (2011) survey an important new literature using income tax-based data to measure the share of income held by top income groups. But changes in tax legislation that expand the tax base to include income sources (e.g. capital gains, dividends, etc.) disproportionately held by these groups will conflate such an expansion with an increase in the share of income they hold. We provide a cautionary tale from Australia of how comprehensive tax reform legislation in 1985 substantially altered Australian top income series, especially those that do not separate taxable realized capital gains from other taxable income.
Published: Richard Burkhauser & Markus Hahn & Roger Wilkins, 2015. "Measuring top incomes using tax record data: a cautionary tale from Australia," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 181-205, June. citation courtesy of