The Distribution of Top Incomes in New Zealand

ANU Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 503

52 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2005

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

Date Written: November 2005

Abstract

Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in New Zealand over the period 1921-2002. We find that the income share of the richest fell during the 1930s, rose again after World War II, and steadily declined from the late-1950s until the mid-1980s. From the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, top income shares rose rapidly. We also estimate shares-within-shares, and find that the income share of the super-rich as a share of the rich followed a similar trajectory, rising sharply over the past quarter-century. Throughout the twentieth century, top income shares in New Zealand followed a very similar pattern to top income shares in Australia. We speculate that the reduction in top marginal tax rates, the deregulation of the economy, and the internationalisation of the market for English-speaking CEOs may have contributed to the recent rise in top income shares.

Keywords: inequality, New Zealand

JEL Classification: D31, N37

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Anthony B. and Leigh, Andrew, The Distribution of Top Incomes in New Zealand (November 2005). ANU Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 503. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=848949 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.848949

Anthony B. Atkinson

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Andrew Leigh (Contact Author)

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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