Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley) presents The Rise of Income and Wealth Inequality of America: Evidence from Distributional Macroeconomic Accounts (with Emmanuel Saez (UC-Berkeley)) virtually at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:
This paper studies inequality in America through the lens of distributional macroeconomic accounts—comprehensive distributions of the aggregate amount of income and wealth recorded in the official macroeconomic accounts of the United States. We use these distributional macroeconomic accounts to quantify the rise of income and wealth concentration since the late 1970s, the change in tax progressivity, and the direct redistributive effects of government intervention in the economy. Between 1978 and 2018, the share of pre-tax income earned by the top 1% rose from 10% to 19% and the share of wealth owned by the top 0.1% rose from 7% to 19%. In 2018, the tax system was regressive at the top-end; the top 400 wealthiest Americans paid a lower average tax rate than the macroeconomic tax rate of 28%. We confront our methods and findings with those of other studies, pinpoint the areas where additional data and more research is needed, and describe how additional data collection could improve inequality measurement.