Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts (DINA)

57 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2018 Last revised: 30 Jan 2018

See all articles by Bertrand Garbinti

Bertrand Garbinti

Banque de France

Jonathan Goupille -Lebret

Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon; Groupe d'Analyse et de Theorie Economique (GATE), CNRS, University of Lyon; INSEAD

Thomas Piketty

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

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Date Written: January 15, 2018

Abstract

This paper presents "Distributional National Accounts" (DINA) for France. That is, we combine national accounts, tax and survey data in a comprehensive and consistent manner to build homogenous annual series on the distribution of national income by percentiles over the 1900-2014 period, with detailed breakdown by age, gender and income categories over the 1970-2014 period. Our DINA-based estimates allow for a much richer analysis of the long-run pattern found in previous tax-based series, i.e. a long-run decline in income inequality, largely due to a sharp drop in the concentration of wealth and capital income following the 1914-1945 capital shocks. First, our new series deliver higher inequality levels than the usual tax-based series for the recent decades, because the latter miss a rising part of capital income. Growth incidence curves look dramatically different for the 1950-1983 and 1983-2014 sub-periods. We also show that gender inequality in labor income declined in recent decades, albeit fairly slowly among top labor incomes E.g. female share among top 0.1% earners was only 12% in 2012 (vs. 7% in 1994 and 5% in 1970). Finally, we find that distributional changes can have large impact on comparisons of well-being across countries. E.g. average pretax income among bottom 50% adults is 20% larger in France than in the U.S., in spite of the fact that aggregate per adult national income is 30% smaller in France.

Keywords: Income Distribution, Inequality, National Accounts, Capital Income, Labor Income

Suggested Citation

Garbinti, Bertrand and Goupille -Lebret, Jonathan and Piketty, Thomas, Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts (DINA) (January 15, 2018). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2018/02/EPS, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3106586 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3106586

Bertrand Garbinti

Banque de France ( email )

Paris
France

Jonathan Goupille -Lebret (Contact Author)

Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon ( email )

15, parvis Rene Descartes BP 7000
Lyon Cedex 07, 69342
France

Groupe d'Analyse et de Theorie Economique (GATE), CNRS, University of Lyon ( email )

93 Chemin des Mouilles
Ecully, 69130
France

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

Thomas Piketty

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

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