October 12, 2017
Written by WID.world

October 2017 Newsletter

WID.world & The World Inequality Lab Newsletter 

Welcome to the third WID.world and World Inequality Lab newsletter, which covers our main developments over the last two months. There has been a flurry of activity over the summer which has seen the publication of a number of new articles, most recently for the Middle East and Lebanon in October, with India and Brazil in September, and Russia in August.

In addition, our first WID.world conference has begun to take shape. A preliminary agenda is now available, with sessions dedicated to the release of the first issue of the World Inequality Report, presentations of the latest research papers on income and wealth inequality, and a panel debate in honor of the late Tony Atkinson. You are encouraged to register if you have not already done so via this link.

 

New Inequality Series

Facundo Alvaredo, Lydia Assouad and Thomas Piketty recently released their paper “Measuring Inequality in the Middle East, 1990-2016: The World’s Most Unequal Region?“, which combines national accounts, surveys and fiscal data in order to provide consistent series on income inequality in the Middle East from 1990 to 2016. According to their benchmark series, the Middle East is indeed one of the most unequal region in the world, with a top decile income share as large as 61% of national income, compared to 36% in Western Europe, 47% in the USA and 55% in Brazil.

 

Top 10% national income shares across the world, 2012-2016

See this figure and obtain more information on how it was constructed at WID.world

 

This Middle East paper builds upon the research that Lydia Assouad had done for Lebanon in her paper “Rethinking the Lebanese economic miracle: The extreme concentration of income and wealth in Lebanon 2005-2014”, which combines national accounts, surveys and fiscal data in order to provide consistent series on income inequality in Lebanon from 2005 to 2014. Income also appears to be extremely concentrated in Lebanon, with the top 1% and top 10% of the adult population receiving approximately 25% and 55% of national income, respectively, in 2014.

Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty’s paper “Indian income inequality, 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?” combines national accounts, surveys and fiscal data in order to provide consistent series on income inequality in India from 1922 to 2014. The authors found that the share of national income accruing to the top 1% of income earners in 2013-2014 (22%) was at its highest level since the creation of the Indian Income tax in 1922, having been at a historical low in the early 1980s (6%).

 

Top 1% national income share in India, 1922-2014

See this figure and obtain more information on how it was constructed at WID.world

 

 

Earlier in the summer Marc Morgan released his paper on Brazil, named “Extreme and Persistent Inequality: New Evidence for Brazil Combining National Accounts, Surveys and Fiscal Data, 2001-2015“, which similarly combined national accounts, surveys and fiscal data in order to provide consistent series on income inequality in Brazil. His benchmark national income series indicated a sharp upward revision to official estimates of inequality in Brazil. While the top 1% and bottom 50% income shares slightly increased over the period, the middle 40% was squeezed. These results are in stark contrast to the decreasing inequality trends that had previously been reported.

Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman have also released a paper entitled “From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia, 1905-2016”, which combines national accounts, surveys, and fiscal and wealth data (including recently released tax data on high-income taxpayers) in order to provide consistent series on inequality and property in Russia. Their results indicate that official survey-based measures have vastly under-estimated the rise in inequality since 1990. Their benchmark estimates suggest that top income shares in Russia are now similar to the levels observed in the United States.

 

Top 10% national income share in France, Russia and the USA, 1900-2015

See this figure and obtain more information on how it was constructed at WID.world

 

First WID.world conference

As you may be aware from our previous newsletters, we are organizing the First WID.world Conference on December 14th and 15th, 2017, hosted by the Paris School of Economics. An exciting preliminary agenda has been confirmed and can be viewed here. It is possible to register via this link.

 

Life at the World Inequality Lab

We are also delighted to welcome new research assistants and research fellows to the World Inequality Lab. Mauricio De Rosa has recently arrived from Montevideo, Uruguay to finalize his research with Joan Vilá in constructing Distributional National Accounts for Uruguay, while Aurélie Sautura and Florian Bonnet have also joined the World Inequality Lab to construct a database on historical income inequality across France’s departments.

 

WID.world in the media

The new inequality series presented in this newsletter triggered public debates in several countries. For an overview of recent media articles related to our research, see here.

 

Warm regards,

Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman
Co-Directors, WID.world & the World Inequality Lab