Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States

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1 Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States Thomas Piketty (PSE) Emmanuel Saez (UC Berkeley) Gabriel Zucman (UC Berkeley) November 2016

2 There is a large disconnect today between the study of inequality and macro Macro: use national accounts, with no distributional information Inequality: use survey & tax data, inconsistent with macro totals This gap makes it hard to know growth is distributed and to analyze the causes of the rise in inequality How does growth of bottom 50%, middle 40%, top 10% adults compare to total growth? What part of rise in inequality owes to change in factor shares vs. changes in the concentration of labor and capital? How do taxes and gov spending affect the distribution of growth?

3 This paper: attempt at constructing Distributional National Accounts (DINA) We construct a micro database of income, wealth, taxes and transfers consistent with national accounts totals in the US: First income inequality series covering 100% of national income First growth statistics by quantile consistent with macro growth First assessment of total redistributive effects of gov. intervention Getting back to Kuznets original intent to study growth & inequality jointly, but with more and better data Ultimate goal: being able to better compare ineq. across countries

4 Our objective: Distribute national income

5 National income = labor income + capital income 100% The share of capital and labor in national income 90% Capital income 80% % of national income 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Labor income

6 Reconciling national labor income and labor income reported on tax returns 80% From taxable to total labor income 70% Tax evasion & other 60% Employer fringe benefits & payroll taxes 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% % of national income 2012 Non-filers Wages and self-employment income on tax returns Source: Appendix Table I-S.A8b.

7 A growing fraction of labor income is missed by tax data

8 Reconciling national capital income and capital income reported on tax returns 30% From taxable to total capital income % of national income 25% 20% 15% 10% Non-filers & other Retained earnings Corporate income tax Imputed rents + property tax Income paid to pensions & insurance 5% 0% Didivends, interest, rents & profits reported on tax returns Source: Appendix Table I-S.A8.

9 Most capital income is missed by tax data

10 Methodology: How we distribute national income

11 How we move from fiscal income to total national income 1. Start with public-use samples of tax returns ( ) High quality, oversamples top 2. Supplement public-use files using additional IRS data Age and gender information since 1979 Labor split for couples & fringe benefits on W2 since Impute missing income using SCF and CPS Non-taxable capital income (pension funds, imputed rents): SCF Monetary transfers: imputed based on CPS distribution by family income deciles and basic demographics 4. Distributionally neutral assumptions for public goods

12 We consider three main concepts of income matching national income Factor national income Sum of all labor income and capital income Pre-tax national income Subtracts contributions for pensions and social insurance, adds corresponding benefits (pensions, disability, unemployment) Post-tax national income Subtracts all other taxes Adds back all other forms of government spending (individualized transfers + public goods) Same national income total for factor, pre-tax and post-tax gives the broadest view of the redistributive effects of the government

13 Final product: a new tool for the study of inequality & growth Annual micro-data set representative of US pop. (1962-present): Detailed income & wealth variables matching national accounts aggregates Demographic information: age, gender, marital status, children Can be used to compute wide array of growth & inequality stats, and simulate tax and transfer reforms For : we rely on tabulated tax statistics produce series for specific income fractiles (top 10% and above)

14 The distribution of US national income and growth: Pre-tax vs. post-tax

15 DINA confirm the rise of income inequality, but post-tax inequality less 50% Top 10% national income share: pre-tax vs. post-tax 45% Pre-tax 40% 35% 30% 25% % of national income Post-tax Source: Appendix Tables II-B1 and II-C1

16 Bottom 50% share has collapsed Bottom 50% national income share: pre-tax vs. post-tax 25% % of national income 20% 15% Post-tax 10% Pre-tax Source: Appendix Tables II-B1 and II-C1

17 Post-tax growth for bottom 50% has been anemic, and eaten up by health spending Average income in constant 2014 $ 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Post-tax Real income of bottom 50%: pre-tax vs. post-tax Pre-tax Post-tax, excluding health benefits Medicare + medicaid Source: Appendix Tables II-B7, II-C7 and II-C3c.

18 The bottom 50% does not benefit on net from cash redistribution Average income in constant 2014 $ 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Post-tax Real income of bottom 50%: pre-tax vs. post-tax Post-tax private Post-tax, excluding health benefits Medicare + medicaid Pre-tax Source: Appendix Tables II-B7, II-C7 and II-C3c.

19 For bottom 50% working-age adults, pre-tax income has collapsed since 1979 Real pre-tax income of bottom 50%, by age group Average income in constant 2014 $ 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 All age years old years old Real values are obtained by using the national income deflator and expressed in $2014. Income is divided equally among spouses.

20 At the bottom, only retirees pre-tax income is growing Real pre-tax income of bottom 50%, by age group 25, years old Average income in constant 2014 $ 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 >65 years old All age years old Source: Appendix Tables II-B7 and II-B7b.

21 Even after transfers, 0 growth in working-age bottom 50% income since 79 Real post-tax income of bottom 50%, by age group 35, years old Average income in constant 2014 $ 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5, years old All years old Source: Appendix Tables II-C7 and II-C7b.

22 The fall of the bottom 50% mirrors the rise of the top 1% 22% Pre-tax national income share: top 1% vs. bottom 50% % of national income 20% 18% 16% 14% 12% Top 1% 10% Bottom 50% Source: Appendix Table II-B1

23 1980: Top 1% income = 27 bottom : Top 1% income = 81 bottom 50 Real average pre-tax income of bottom 50% and top 1% adults Top 1% real average pre-tax income (2014$) 1,400,000 1,200,000 1,000, , , , , : Top 1% = $428, : Bottom 50% = $16, :Top 1% = $1,305, : Bottom 50% = $16, ,500 45,000 37,500 30,000 22,500 15,000 7,500 0 Bottom 50% real average pre-tax income (2014$) Source: Appendix Tables II-B7 and II-B10

24 Changes in standards of living in the United States since 1946 Pre-tax income growth Post-tax income growth Income group Full Population 61% 95% 61% 95% Bottom 50% 1% 102% 21% 130% Middle 40% 42% 105% 49% 98% Top 10% 121% 79% 113% 69% Top 1% 205% 47% 194% 58% Top 0.1% 321% 54% 299% 104% Top 0.01% 454% 75% 424% 201% Top 0.001% 636% 57% 617% 163%

25 Gender inequality and its effect on individual-level inequality

26 When assigning each spouse her own labor income, inequality has increased less 55% Top 10% pre-tax income share: equal-split vs. individuals 50% % of national income 45% 40% Pre-tax income per adult (individuals) 35% 30% Pre-tax income per adult (equal split) Source: Appendix Table II-B9.

27 This is due to the decline in the inequality of labor income between genders 400% Average pre-tax labor income of men aged / women aged % 300% 250% 200% 150% 100% Source: Appendix Table II-F1.

28 Part of the decline in gender inequality owes to rising female labor force particip. 50% Share of women in the employed population 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Source: Appendix Table II-F1.

29 Men still make 85% of the top 1% of the labor income distribution 50% 45% 40% Share of women in the employed population, by fractile of labor income 35% 30% 25% All Top 10% 20% 15% 10% 5% Top 1% Top 0.1% 0% Source: Appendix Table II-F1.

30 At the median, no growth for working-age men over half a century 45,000 Median pre-tax labor income: working-age men vs. working-age women Real median pre-tax income ($2014) 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Working-age men Working age adults Working-age women Source: Appendix Table II-B13.

31 Decomposing inequality: Labor vs. capital

32 Capital is making a comeback in the US 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% The share of capital in pre-tax income 20% 10% Macro capital share in national income 0%

33 Capital is making a comeback at the top The share of capital in pre-tax income 100% 90% Top 0.1% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% Top 1% Top 10% 30% 20% All 10% Bottom 90% 0% Source: Appendix Table II-B2d.

34 Since the 1990s, top 1% rises because of capital income 14% Pre-tax capital income of top 1% adult income earners 12% 10% Interest and dividends paid to pension plans % of national income 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% Housing rents Income from equity Noncorporate profits Interest Source: Appendix Table II-B2b

35 Labor income concentration has stopped rising since the late 1990s 12% Pre-tax labor income of top 1% adult income earners 10% % of national income 8% 6% 4% Compensation of employees 2% 0% Labor component of mixed income Source: Appendix Table II-B2b.

36 The top became younger in the 1980s and 1990s, since the 2000s is growing older 58 Average age by pre-tax income group 56 Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 10% Age Average age in the adult population Source: Appendix Table II-F2.

37 Decomposing inequality: the role of taxes and transfers

38 The macro rate of tax rose until the 1960s and has been constant since then 45% 40% Macroeconomic tax rate (Federal + State + local) % of national income 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Macroeconomic tax rate Source: Appendix Table II-G1.

39 Tax progressivity has declined since the 1960s 45% 40% Average tax rates by pre-tax income group % of pre-tax income 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% Top 1% All 10% 5% 0% Bottom 50% Source: Appendix Table II-G1.

40 Taxes have increased for the bottom 50% because of payroll taxes 30% Taxes paid by the bottom 50% % of bottom 50% pre-tax income 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% Capital taxes Payroll taxes Individual income taxes 0% Sales taxes Source: Appendix Table II-G2

41 Taxes have fallen at the top because of the decline of corporate and estate taxes 45% 40% Taxes paid by the top 1% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% % of top 1% pre-tax income Individual income taxes Corporate taxes Estate taxes Sales + residential property + payroll taxes Source: Appendix Table II-G2

42 Individualized transfers have increased since the 1960s 25% Average transfers: individualized vs. collective consumption expenditure 20% % of national income 15% 10% 5% Collective consumption expenditure 0% Individualized transfers (cash + in-kind) Source: Appendix Table G4

43 More transfers go to the middle class than to bottom 50% % of average national income 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% 1960 Bot 50% 1965 Average individualized transfer by post-tax income group (excluding Social Security) All Top 10% 1995 Middle 40% (P50-P90) Source: Appendix Table II-G4.

44 More transfers go to the middle class than to bottom 50%, even incl. Social Security 25% Average individualized transfer by post-tax income group (including Social Security) % of average national income 20% 15% 10% 5% Middle 40% Top 10% All 0% Bottom 50% Source: Appendix Table II-G4b.

45 Comparison with fiscal incomes

46 Bottom 90% has grown more than in tax data Bottom 90% income growth: Pre-tax income vs. fiscal income Average income in constant 2014 dollars 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 National income per adult Bottom 90% fiscal income per tax unit (Piketty-Saez) Bottom 90% pre-tax income per adult +2.0% +1.8% +2.1% +1.4% -0.1% % Source: Appendix Table II-B3 and Piketty and Saez (2003, updated to 2014)

47 Without fringe benefits, 0 growth for bottom 90% since 1970s 40,000 Average pre-tax income of the bottom 90% Average income in constant 2014$ 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Taxable labor income Capital income Tax-exempt labor income Source: Appendix Table II-B2e

48 Conclusion

49 Combining tax, survey, and national accounts data The DINA agenda: Construct new series on the distribution pre- and post-tax income consistent with macro totals Hope will be adopted by govt agencies down the road Results for the United States: Collapse of working-age bottom 50% pre-tax income, 0 growth post transfer Boom of top-end inequality since late 1990s due to capital Spectacular gender gap at the top, not shrinking anymore Gov. has offset only small fraction of the in pre-tax inequality, due to in tax progressivity & limited transfers to bottom 50%

50 Supplementary Slides

51 Average income is growing less in tax and survey data than in the economy Average real income growth: national accounts vs. survey vs. fiscal data (1946 = 100) 300 National income per adult 260 CPS income per household (CPI) Fiscal income per tax unit (CPI) Source: Appendix Table A0 and Census Bureau.

52 Three culprits: inflation, fewer marriages, rising non-taxable income Average real income growth: national accounts vs. fiscal data (1946 = 100) Fiscal income per adult (national income deflator) National income per adult 220 Fiscal income per tax unit (national income deflator) 180 Fiscal income per tax unit (CPI) Source: Appendix Table A0.

53 Top 1% income share: pre-tax vs. post-tax Top 1% national income share: pre-tax vs. post-tax 20% % of national income 15% 10% Pre-tax 5% Post-tax Source: Appendix Tables II-B1 and II-C1

54 For bottom 50% elderly, all the growth comes from health transfers 35,000 Post-tax income of the bottom 50% of elderly Americans (65+) Average income in constant 2014 dollars 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Post-tax income Post-tax income excluding health benefits Medicare + Medicaid Source: Appendix Table II-C7c.

55 Still a lot of inequality between genders, especially for older workers 350% Average labor income of all men aged / all women aged 20-64, by age group 300% 250% All 45 to % 150% 20 to % Source: Appendix Table F1.

56 Capital is making a comeback in the US: robust to assuming fixed return on capital 50% The share of capital in pre-tax income, assuming constant 5% return on capital 45% Top 0.1% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% Top 1% Top 10% All (macro capital share in national income) 5% 0%

57 Top-end inequality is high and growing at all ages 12% Top 0.1% pre-tax national income share by age group 10% % of pre-tax income 8% 6% 4% All 2% 0% Source: Appendix Table II-B11b.

58 Transfers have softened blow to the middle-class during Great Recession 70,000 Real income of the middle 40%: the role of transfers Average income in constant 2014 dollars 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 Post-tax income Post-tax income excluding transfers Transfers Source: Appendix Table II-C3b.

59 Pre-tax national income inequality has risen less than fiscal income inequality 50% Top 10% income share: comparison of estimates 45% 40% Pre-tax income per adult 35% 30% Fiscal income per tax unit (Piketty-Saez) Source: Appendix Table II-B1 and Piketty and Saez (2003, updated to 2014).

60 Part of the difference owes to income missing from tax returns in 1950s-1970s 50% Top 10% income share: fiscal income vs. pre-tax income 45% Pre-tax income per tax unit 40% 35% Missing income 30% Fiscal income per tax unit (Piketty-Saez) Source: Appendix Tables II-B9 and Piketty and Saez (2003, updated to 2014)

61 Rest of the difference owes to adults vs. tax units 55% Top 10% income share: tax units vs. equal-split adults 50% % of total income 45% 40% Pre-tax national income per tax unit 35% 30% Pre-tax national income per adult (equal split) Source: Appendix TablesII- B1 and II-D1.

62 Bottom 50% income with different treatment of education spending Real post-tax income of bottom 50%: Different allocation of education spending Average income in constant 2014 $ 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Eduction lump sum per child Education proportional to disposable income (excluding health) Source: Appendix Tables II-C3d.

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