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The Curious Incident of Luxury Imports during the Top-Income Surge

Stephanie Houle, Pau Pujolas () and Michael Veall ()

Department of Economics Working Papers from McMaster University

Abstract: Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez [2011] find a post-1979 surge in taxfiler top income shares in “English speaking countries” (surge countries) but not in “continental European countries and Japan” (no-surge countries). We find the puzzle that Comtrade import-to-GDP ratios and import-to-total-import ratios for apparent luxuries pearls, precious stones, diamonds, works of art, jewellery, furs and coins do not increase post-1979 in surge countries relative to no-surge countries. Explanations could include issues with the taxfiler or import data or that top income individuals do not have a particularly high marginal to propensity to consume these luxury goods, at least within their own country. Overall, this is a fragment of evidence that there may not have been a large post-1979 increase in top-end domestic consumption inequality in surge countries compared to no-surge countries.

Keywords: income distribution; taxfiler data; luxury goods (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 D31 D63 F19 N30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 10 pages
Date: 2018-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur and nep-his
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Journal Article: The Curious Incident of Luxury Imports during the Top-Income Surge (2019) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2018-12

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