Monday, December 24, 2018

Galbraith versus Piketty on Inequality

A new paper by James k. Galbraith has been published in Development & Change. It's along the lines of his arguments in the Godley-Tobin Lecture delivered earlier this year, and to be published in the Review of Keynesian Economics (ROKE) in January. Basically, we need a macro story for inequality (which Piketty r-g framework tries, but ultimately fail to provide) and that the payroll data that Galbraith uses provides a more accurate measure of inequality than the tax records favored by Piketty and his co-authors.

From the abstract:
This article reviews the World Inequality Report 2018, a large collaborative data project based on the work of Thomas Piketty and the late Anthony Atkinson, which critiques the entire literature of inequality measurement from survey data and purports to provide superior, unprecedented and reliable coverage of income and wealth inequalities over the entire world, based primarily on tax records. The article examines three major issues: the coverage provided by tax data in the world economy, the consistency of tax data with other sources of information on income inequality, and the peculiarities of tax‐based measurement of inequality in the United States. Then a comparison is made with measures drawn from other forms of administrative data — specifically payroll records — which are generally more consistent with records of inequality measured in household surveys than are tax records. Following this, the article discusses the analysis of wealth and wealth inequality before offering a few closing remarks about policy.
Read full paper here

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