Annette Alstadsæter, 03 August 2018

It's routine for the rich to dodge tax by hiding it offshore. But how much of their wealth are they hiding illegally? Tim Phillips talks to Annette Alstadsæter of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences about how she and her colleagues used whistleblower data to discover the extent of tax evasion by the ultra-rich.

Brian Nolan, 03 August 2018

The narrative that globalisation and technological change have been the central forces hollowing out the jobs market, squeezing ‘the middle’, driving up inequality, and undermining growth is frequently taken to apply across the rich countries. This column presents a set of country case studies of the US alongside nine other rich countries that highlights just how varied their experiences since the 1980s have actually been.  Country contexts really matter, and policy responses must be framed in light of the institutional point of departure and distinctive challenges each country faces.

Diane Coyle, 01 August 2018

S. Amer Ahmed, Maurizio Bussolo, Marcio Cruz, Delfin S. Go, Israel Osorio Rodarte, 11 July 2018

Average education levels are increasing in developing countries, but not in high-income countries. The column argues that this 'education wave' in developing countries will reduce global inequality by 2030, with average incomes up to the 90th percentile all benefitting from the trend. However, this equalising effect relies on continued globalisation.

Sangmin Aum, Tim Lee, Yongseok Shin, 04 July 2018

The past three decades have seen unprecedented technological development, with major impacts on labour markets and the economy as a whole. This column investigates how automation and the increased use of computers has affected productivity trends over the last three decades. Results suggest that automation has had a strong effect on slowing down aggregate productivity, despite raising it at the micro level. This is due to the reallocation of factor inputs across occupations and industries. 

Joan Rosés, Nikolaus Wolf, 20 July 2018

Inequality between Europe's regions has risen in the last few decades. Joan Rosés and Nikolaus Wolf discuss their research on inequality at both the personal and regional levels across Europe in the last century. Rising regional inequality is one factor behind the growing populism in Europe.

Armin Falk, Anke Becker, Thomas Dohmen, Benjamin Enke, David Huffman, Uwe Sunde, 19 June 2018

Vast inequalities exist within societies as well as across nations. This column uses a new dataset to show that preferences vary substantially across and within societies, and that these differences are related to differences in economic outcomes at the individual and aggregate levels. The findings suggest that institutional reform should take into account how institutions may interact with preference differences. 

Leandro de la Escosura, 02 June 2018

Rising trends in GDP per capita are often interpreted as reflecting rising levels of general wellbeing. But GDP per capita is at best a crude proxy for wellbeing, neglecting important qualitative dimensions. This column explores the long-term trends in global wellbeing inequality using a new dataset. Inequality indices reflecting various aspects of wellbeing are shown to have been declining since WWI, unlike real GDP per capita inequality. 

Juan Dolado, Gergo Motyovszki, Evi Pappa, 17 May 2018

There is ongoing debate over the welfare implications of the unorthodox measures adopted by central banks in the wake of the Global Crisis. Using US data, this column explores the implications of monetary policy for income and wealth inequality. Unexpected monetary expansions are found to increase inequality between high- and low-skilled workers. In terms of stabilising the economy, strict inflation targeting is found to be the most successful policy.

Filipa Sá, 15 May 2018

There is growing concern among households and policymakers alike that house prices in England and Wales are being driven up by foreign buyers making investment purchases. Filipa Sá examines the link between foreign investment and house prices, using local authority data over a span of 15 years. This video was recorded at the 2018 RES annual conference.

Annette Alstadsæter, Niels Johannesen, Gabriel Zucman, 09 May 2018

Tax records are often used to gauge the concentration of wealth and income in a society. However, if the rich dodge taxes more than the poor, tax records will underestimate inequality. This column uses Scandinavia as an example to demonstrate how tax evasion varies with wealth: the top 0.01% richest households in Scandinavia evade about 25% of the taxes they owe by concealing assets and investment income abroad. The very rich are able to do this simply because they have access to wealth concealment services. To reduce top-end evasion, what is essential is to shrink the supply of such services.

Timur Kuran, Jared Rubin, 28 April 2018

Poor people pay much more for credit than wealthier people because they are believed to be more likely to default, but this might not always be the case if the enforcement of repayment is biased in favour of wealthy people. This column uses evidence from Ottoman Istanbul to show that where courts favoured the rich and wealthy, these groups faced higher relative borrowing costs. Those with the greatest capacity to invest in capital and entrepreneurial activities thus paid the most for credit, possibly contributing to the slowdown of economic growth in the region.

Paula Gobbi, Marc Goñi, 28 April 2018

We know inheritance practices have an impact on inequality, social mobility, and economic growth, but the effect on fertility decisions has often been ignored even though such decisions can affect the economic impact of inheritance. This column uses data on the British aristocracy to provide evidence of the two-way link between inheritance and fertility decisions on the extensive margin. This allows us to understand modern inheritance practices, such as trusts, that restrict successors.

Valentin Lang, Marina Mendes Tavares, 27 April 2018

Globalisation stirs a diverse range of sentiments and views: some credit globalisation for boosting economic well-being while others blame it for worsening inequality. This column examines the effect of globalisation on income among and within countries, and shows that globalisation is associated with income convergence across countries and income divergence within countries. Targeted redistributive policies and investments in education are needed to ensure that the benefits of globalisation are enjoyed by all.

Kevin Lansing, Agnieszka Markiewicz, 21 April 2018

The increase in US income inequality since 1970 largely reflects gains made by households in the top 20% of the income distribution. The framework presented in this column shows that households outside of this group have suffered significant losses from forgone consumption, measured relative to a scenario that holds inequality constant. A substantial mitigating factor for these losses has been the dramatic rise in government redistributive transfers, which have doubled as a share of US output over the same period.

Thomas Piketty, 10 April 2018

Wealth inequality is a growing problem across advanced and developing countries alike. Though research on inequality is growing, much of it remains reliant on theoretical models. Thomas Piketty discusses the importance of data collection in the study of inequality, on both the academic and policy fronts.

Jonas Kolsrud, Camille Landais, Johannes Spinnewijn, 04 April 2018

Household consumption is central to economic and welfare analysis, but it remains difficult to fully measure at an empirical level. Using evidence from Sweden, this column argues the case for using registry-based data to estimate consumption expenditures, particularly at the tails of income distributions. It also argues that previous suggestions that recent rises in income inequality haven’t been matched by rises in consumption inequality may be misguided.

Philippe Aghion, 27 March 2018

Many economists argue that fixing inequality should not come at the expense of innovation. Philippe Aghion discusses the role innovation has to play in fostering growth and social mobility. This video was recorded at the RES annual conference in Spring 2015.

David Miles, 23 March 2018

The housing market faces major challenges in both the short and long run in terms of affordability, price variability, ownership structures, financing, and their impacts upon wider macroeconomic stability. This column summarises a conference on lessons for the future of housing, jointly organised by the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis at Imperial College Business School and CEPR.

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