The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia

15 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007

See all articles by Anthony B. Atkinson

Anthony B. Atkinson

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Andrew Leigh

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House; Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, ANU; IZA

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Abstract

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 the start of the twenty-first century, the income share of the richest was higher than it had been at any point in the previous 50 years. Among top income groups, recent decades have also seen a rise in the share of top income accruing to the super-rich. Trends in top income shares are similar to those observed among other elite groups, such as judges, politicians, top bureaucrats and chief executive officers.

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Anthony B. and Leigh, Andrew, The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia. Economic Record, Vol. 83, No. 262, pp. 247-261, September 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1014701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4932.2007.00412.x

Anthony B. Atkinson (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Andrew Leigh

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House ( email )

Canberra, 2600
Australia

Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, ANU ( email )

ANU College of Business and Economics
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

IZA ( email )

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