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Between communism and capitalism: long-term inequality in Poland, 1892–2015

Paweł Bukowski () and Filip Novokmet ()
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Paweł Bukowski: London School of Economics and Political Science
Filip Novokmet: University of Bonn

Journal of Economic Growth, 2021, vol. 26, issue 2, No 3, 187-239

Abstract: Abstract We construct the first consistent series on the long-term distribution of income in Poland by combining tax, household survey and national accounts data. We document a U-shaped evolution of inequalities from the end of the nineteenth century until today: (1) inequality was high before WWII; (2) abruptly fell after the introduction of communism in 1947 and stagnated at low levels during the whole communist period; (3) experienced a sharp rise with the return to capitalism in 1989. We find that official survey-based measures strongly under-estimate the rise in inequality since 1989. Our results highlight the prominent role of capital income in driving the U-shaped evolution of top income shares. The unique inequality history of Poland speaks to the central role of institutions and policies in shaping inequality in the long run.

Keywords: Income inequality; Transformation; Poland (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D31 E01 J3 N34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10887-021-09190-1

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