December 19, 2022
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Distributional National Accounts of Taiwan, 1991-2017


We construct the pre-tax Distributional National Accounts (DINA) of Taiwan from 1981 to 2017 using survey data. Our DINA individual income series demonstrates a much larger inequality than previous results using tax tabulations and tax units. This difference is mainly due to a change in the unit of observation and the treatment of corporate retained earnings. We find that income inequality was stable in the 1980s and began to rise after the mid-1990s. After 2000, this trend further accelerated. We then estimate the distribution of economic growth. From 1981 to 2001, Taiwan experienced a period of rapid economic growth, with a growth rate of 7.32 percent annually and a fairly equal distribution of growth. From 2001 to 2017, the aggregate growth rate declined to 2.47 percent with a deteriorating distribution of growth. The increasing inequality in income and growth distribution is due to the combination of a worsening
capital income distribution and rising retained earnings.


  • Cyrus Chu, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica,
  • Chien-Yu Chen, University of Houston,
  • Ming-Jen Lin, National Taiwan University,
  • Hsuan-Li Su, CRETA and National Taiwan University,




We thank helpful comments from Zhexun Mo, Thomas Piketty, Li Yang, and other colleagues in the World Inequality Lab. This work was financially supported by the Center for Research in Econometric Theory and Applications (CRETA; Grant No. 110L900201) from The Featured Areas Research Center Program within the framework of the Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan and by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan, under Grant No. MOST 109-2634-F-002-045- and MOST 110-2634-F-002-045-. We thank the Ministry of Finance of Taiwan for access to administrative income tax data. We also thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments that greatly improved the paper.