Trends and Levels of Income Inequality in Wisconsin, 1919-1941: The Effect of Using Different Data Sources

16 Pages Posted: 17 May 2017 Last revised: 13 Jun 2017

Vincent Geloso

Texas Tech University

Phillip W. Magness

George Mason University - School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs

Date Written: May 17, 2017

Abstract

In this short note, we use two different sources available for the state of Wisconsin in order to assess the quality of income inequality measurements in the United States between the two World Wars. By comparing estimates derived from federal income tax records with estimates derived from the state income tax for Wisconsin, we find that each series produces highly different patterns and levels in inequality for the state. These findings attest to the high sensitivity of modern distributional estimation techniques to issues of quality with their underlying data sources. Noting this concern, we argue for greater caution in the use of income tax data for measuring historical income inequality.

Keywords: Inequality, Top Incomes, US Economic History

JEL Classification: H2, N32

Suggested Citation

Geloso, Vincent and Magness, Phillip W., Trends and Levels of Income Inequality in Wisconsin, 1919-1941: The Effect of Using Different Data Sources (May 17, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968587

Vincent Geloso

Texas Tech University ( email )

1901 University Avenue
Lubbock, TX Texas 79410
United States

Phillip W. Magness (Contact Author)

George Mason University - School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs ( email )

Founders Hall
3351 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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