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The Changing Distribution of Earnings in OECD Countries$
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A.B. Atkinson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199532438

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199532438.001.0001

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A Longer‐Run View of the Earnings Distribution: The Great Compression and the Golden Age

A Longer‐Run View of the Earnings Distribution: The Great Compression and the Golden Age

Chapter:
(p.53) 6 A Longer‐Run View of the Earnings Distribution: The Great Compression and the Golden Age
Source:
The Changing Distribution of Earnings in OECD Countries
Author(s):

A. B. Atkinson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199532438.003.0007

This chapter examines the long run earnings data of five OECD countries: Canada, France, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It shows that the Anglo-Saxon countries have all seen large rises and falls in the deciles. Generalizations about the time path of change do not necessarily hold universally, but there appear to be three distinct phases in the pre-1980 period, which exhibit common features in several — but not all — of the five countries studied: compression of the earnings distribution in the 1930s and 1940s; rise in the top decile of the earnings distribution during the Golden Age from 1950 to the mid-1960s (with the exception of Germany), accompanied in some cases by falls in the bottom decile or lower quartile, and a ‘tilt’ at the very top; and narrowing of the distribution in the late 1960s and 1970s (stability of top decile in United States and Germany).

Keywords:   earnings distribution, OECD, Canada, France, Germany, United States, United Kingdom, deciles

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