Capital and Labor: The Factor Income Composition of Top Incomes in the United States, 1962-2006

43 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2017 Last revised: 1 May 2018

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)

Christoph Lakner

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); University of Oxford - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 11, 2017

Abstract

This paper finds that capital and labor incomes in the United States have become more closely associated since the 1980s. This contributed to the well-known increase in the top 1 percent's share of total income, exacerbating rising inequality in capital incomes and earnings. The paper shows that the trend in the association is U-shaped, as the recent increase contrasts with a tendency toward a weakening association until the 1980s. The paper uses data derived from tax records, studies the asymmetries in the association, tests for robustness to alternative income definitions, and discusses the potential role of declining top marginal tax rates.

Keywords: Employment and Unemployment, Poverty Reduction Strategies, Wages, Compensation & Benefits, Public Sector Economics, Macro-Fiscal Policy, Economic Adjustment and Lending, Taxation & Subsidies, Public Finance Decentralization and Poverty Reduction, Economic Conditions and Volatility

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Anthony B. and Lakner, Christoph, Capital and Labor: The Factor Income Composition of Top Incomes in the United States, 1962-2006 (December 11, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8268, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3086335

Anthony B. Atkinson (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Christoph Lakner

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

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University of Oxford - Department of Economics

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