Hello from Paris everyone!
I will resist here posting pictures of me eating fancy cheeses and drinking wine.
I’m in Paris with my long-time co-author Estelle Sommeiller for a presentation of our preliminary findings on top incomes across U.S. states and counties at the first conference of the World Wealth and Income database (The Economic Policy Institute will release the final version of our paper in the New Year). The database hosted at the Paris School of Economics and is an open source effort by dozens of scholars from around the world to assemble a complete picture of trends in the distribution of wealth and income in every country in the world.
The conference kicked off with the release of the World Inequality Report (the executive summary / the full 300+ page report). One of the important message to emerge from the report is that although income and wealth inequality are rising in much of the world, to borrow a phrase from our colleagues in Ohio, policy matters. You can see that in the two figures below which plot out the share of income held by the top 1% and the bottom 50% in the U.S. and Western Europe. The share of income captured by the top 1% is rising in both places but it is rising much faster in the U.S. because economic policy in the U.S. has been much more favorable to the top 1% with steep cuts in taxes for the top, a falling minimum wage and the declining power of unions.
Of course, these are the trends through the last several years there is wide agreement here that the tax plan emerging from Congress will make sure that a large share of the benefits of economic growth in the future continues to flow to the top 1% (see the impact in Pennsylvania). Similarly, a Trump proposal to allow employers to pocket the tips you leave for your server is bound to put more downward pressure on the incomes of bottom 50% of people. Visit the Restaurant Opportunities Center to find out how you can help push back on this effort to legalize wage theft.