Markus Hahn: The evolution of top earnings in Germany: Evidence from wage tax records

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Jan Kabátek

j.kabatek@unimelb.edu.au

Title: The evolution of top earnings in Germany: Evidence from wage tax records

Abstract: Using German wage tax record data, I create consistent, long-run series of top earnings shares and percentile ratios, covering 1926 to 2010. The data allow me to distinguish between West and East Germany since 1992. I find that the concentration of earnings at the top fell from 1926 until the mid-1970s and then rose continuously until 2010. This concentration was lower in East Germany than in West Germany but grew faster in the former than in the latter. Levels and trends in German top earnings shares were similar to those in the UK but different to those in the US, which experienced higher levels and much faster growth that began one decade earlier than in Germany. The concentration of earnings at the top was higher among men than among women and, also, grew faster among men than among women, especially during the 1980s. The share of women in the upper tail of the earnings distribution was very low. Their share in the top 10% increased from 8.5% in 1955 to 18.4% in 2010. It was higher in East Germany than in West Germany

Presenter: Markus Hahn, Melbourne Institute, University of Melbourne

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