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Common Trends and Shocks to Top Incomes: A Structural Breaks Approach

by Jesper Roine (with D. Waldenström), published in the Review of Economics and Statistics

We use newly compiled top income share data and structural breaks techniques to estimate common trends and breaks in inequality across countries over the twentieth century. Our results both confirm earlier findings and offer new insights. In particular, the division into an Anglo-Saxon and a Continental European experience is not as clear cut as previously suggested. Some Continental European countries seem to have experienced increases in top income shares, just as Anglo-Saxon countries, but typically with a lag. Most notably, Nordic countries display a marked "Anglo-Saxon" pattern, with sharply increased top income shares especially when including realized capital gains. Our results help inform theories about the causes of the recent rise in inequality.

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