Do rising top incomes lift all boats?

17 May 2010

Pooling data for 1905 to 2000, this paper finds no systematic relationship between top income shares and economic growth in a panel of 12 developed nations observed for between 22 and 85 years.

After 1960, however, a one percentage point rise in the top decile’s income share is associated with a statistically significant 0.12 point rise in GDP growth during the following year. This relationship is not driven by changes in either educational attainment or top tax rates. If the increase in inequality is permanent, the increase in growth appears to be permanent.  However, these estimates imply that it would take 13 years for the cumulative positive effect of faster growth on the mean income of the bottom nine deciles to offset the negative effect of reducing their share of total income.  

Publication Details

Resource Type: 

Cite this document

Suggested Citation

Andrew Leigh, Christopher Jencks, Dan Andrews, 2010, Do rising top incomes lift all boats?, Centre for Economic Policy Research, viewed 27 March 2017, <>.

Page Shares