The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

The Long Run History of Economic Inequality

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Principal Investigator: Facundo Alvaredo. Lead organisation: Paris School of Economics

Co-investigators: Thomas Piketty; Anthony Barnes Atkinson

The first theme of the research programme is the assembly and analysis of historical evidence from fiscal records on the long-run development of economic inequality.  “Long run” is a relative term, and here it means evidence dating back before the Second World War, and extending where possible back into the nineteenth century.  The time span is determined by the sources used, which are based on taxes on incomes, earnings, wealth and estates.

Perspective on current concerns is provided by the past, but also by comparison with other countries. The second theme of the research programme is that of cross-country comparisons. The research is not limited to OECD countries and will draw on evidence globally.

In order to understand the drivers of inequality, it is necessary to consider the sources of economic advantage. The third theme is the analysis of the sources of income, considering separately the roles of earned incomes and property income, and examining the historical and comparative evolution of earned and property income, and their joint distribution.

The fourth theme is the long-run trend in the distribution of wealth and its transmission through inheritance. Here again there are rich fiscal data on the passing of estates at death.


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Research Grant
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Fund Start Date: 
January 1st, 2012
Fund End Date: 
December 31st, 2014
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