Macrohistory Seminar – Jonathan Goupille-Lebret (ENS Lyon) Inequality and Redistribution in France, 1900-2018: Evidence from Post-Tax Distributional National Accounts

Event details

  • Thursday, November 7
  • 12:15 PM
  • Juridicum, Faculty-lounge (Room 0.036, opposite lecture hall K)
Inequality and Redistribution in France, 1900-2018: Evidence from Post-Tax Distributional National Accounts

This paper presents post-tax Distributional National Accounts (DINA) for France. That is, we combine national accounts, tax and survey data in a comprehensive and consistent manner to build homogenous annual series on the post-tax, post-transfer distribution of national income by percentiles over the 1990-2018 period, with detailed breakdown by age, tax and transfer categories. We come with three main findings. First, taxes and transfers reduce total income inequality (as measured by the ratio between average incomes of the top 10% and bottom 50% groups) by 23% on average in France over this period. This is significant, but less than in the US (34%). The reason why overall inequality is much smaller in France than in the US (more than twice as small, according to this indicator) is entirely due to differences in pretax inequality (themselves due to a complex combination of factors: access to education, wage formation, etc.) rather than in secondary redistribution (i.e. policies affecting the gap between the pretax distribution and the post-tax post-transfer distribution of income). Next, due to the large role of indirect taxes, social contributions, and income capital exemptions, the overall profile of taxation is structurally regressive in France (i.e. very top groups pay lower effective tax rates than groups just below them), a feature that has been reinforced in 2017-2018. Third, monetary transfers benefit mostly older age groups in France, and leave unaffected the low relative position of younger age groups. These series are currently being extended to cover the entire 1900-2018 period and to better take into account in-kind transfers.

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