Top Incomes in the Long Run of History

Date: 01 March 2011

A recent literature has constructed top income shares time series over the long run for more than twenty countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very signi cant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth per capita and Gini inequality indexes are sensitive to excluding or including top incomes. We discuss the esti- mation methods and issues that arise when constructing top income share series, including income de nition and comparability over time and across countries, tax avoidance, and tax evasion. We provide a summary of the key empirical ndings.

Tony Atkinson Thomas Piketty Emmanuel Saez

Employment, Equity and Growth

Top Incomes in the Long Run of History


Type: paper

Atkinson, A.B., Piketty, T. and Saez, E. (2011) `Top Incomes in the Long Run of History’. Journal of Economic Literature, 49: 3–71.


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