The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia

Australian National University Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 514

39 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2006

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in Australia over the period 1921-2002. We find that the income share of the richest fell from the 1920s until the mid-1940s, rose briefly in the post-war decade, and then declined until the early-1980s. During the 1980s and 1990s, top income shares rose rapidly. At the start of the twenty-first century, the income share of the richest was higher than it had been at any point in the previous fifty years. Among top income groups, recent decades have also seen a rise in the share of top income accruing to the super-rich. Trends in top income shares are similar to those observed among other elite groups, such as judges, politicians, top bureaucrats and CEOs. We speculate that changes in top income shares may have been affected by top marginal tax rates, skill-biased technological change, social norms about inequality, and the internationalisation of the market for English-speaking CEOs.

Keywords: inequality, Australia

JEL Classification: D31, N37

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Anthony B. and Leigh, Andrew, The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia (March 2006). Australian National University Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 514. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=891892 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.891892

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 )

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
103
rank
223,266
Abstract Views
1,184
PlumX Metrics