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Stephanie Houle, Pau Pujolas and Michael Veall
''The Curious Incident of Luxury Imports during the Top-Income Surge''
( 2019, Vol. 39 No.2 )
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). Working at a similarly high level of abstraction, we find the puzzle that import-to-GDP ratios and import-to-total-import ratios for 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 potential flaws in the taxfiler or import data, or that top income individuals do not have a particularly high marginal propensity to import these luxury goods. Overall, we believe that 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
JEL: D3 - Distribution: General
F1 - Trade: General
Manuscript Received : Nov 02 2018 Manuscript Accepted : Jun 15 2019

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