Income Inequality in France 1901-98

65 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2001

See all articles by Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty

National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives d'Economie Mathematique Appliquees a la Planification (CEPREMAP); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: July 2001

Abstract

The objective of this research is to document and to explain trends in inequality in 20th century France. Data from income tax returns (1915-98), wage tax returns (1919-98) and inheritance tax returns (1902-94), is used in order to compute fully homogeneous, yearly estimates of income inequality, wage inequality and wealth inequality. The main conclusion is that the decline in income inequality that took place during the first half of the 20th century was mostly accidental. In France and possibly in a number of other developed countries as well wage inequality has actually been extremely stable in the long run, and the secular decline in income inequality is for the most part a capital income phenomenon. Holders of very large fortunes were severely hit by major shocks during the 1914-45 period, and were never able to fully recover from these shocks, probably because of the dynamic effects of progressive taxation on capital accumulation and pre-tax income inequality.

Keywords: Wage distribution, capital accumulation, income distribution

JEL Classification: D63, E25, N34

Suggested Citation

Piketty, Thomas, Income Inequality in France 1901-98 (July 2001). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2876. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=277308

Thomas Piketty (Contact Author)

National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives d'Economie Mathematique Appliquees a la Planification (CEPREMAP) ( email )

Ecole Normale Superieure
48 boulevard Jourdan
75014 Paris
France
+33 1 4313 6250 (Phone)
+33 1 4313 6259 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://pythie.cepremap.ens.fr/~piketty/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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