måndag 25 mars 2013

Komplettare inkomstojämlikhetsbegrepp och ojämlikheten i USA

Lönespridningen och inkomstojämlikheten har ökat i USA de senaste trettio åren, det vet vi. Men olika studier bygger på olika typer av data och ger ofta bara delar av pusslet. Timothy Smeeding som är verksam vid University of Wisconsin och en av de ledande inkomstfördelningsforskarna och Jeffrey Thompson som är vid University of Massachusetts diskuterar i sitt paper "Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income: Labor, Wealth and More Complete Measures of Well Being" vad de kallar ett "mer komplett" begrepp om inkomstojämlikhet. Vad som gör deras begrepp "mer komplett" handlar framför allt om ett mer sofistikerat sätt att mäta kapitalinkomster. För den sjunkande löneandelen står för en viktig del av ökningen av inkomstojämlikhet:
"And, labor income in the form of wages had declined to 50.2 percent of national income by the third quarter of 2006 – a 50-year low as a share of national income (Aron-Dine and Shapiro, 2006; Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2010; Goldfarb and Leonard, 2005). Even after adding together labor income (even including supplements or employee benefits) and corporate profits, which peaked at 13.7 percent of total national income in the third quarter of 2006 after rising for three decades, there is still more than a fifth of the nation’s economic pie missing. Other uncounted components of National Income such as net interest, proprietor’s income and rental incomes are largely missing from micro date based income distribution calculations (see Table 1)." (s 7)
Men det är inte helt enkelt att mäta kapitalinkomster, eftersom de kan timas så flexibelt:
"powerful income recipients can choose the form and timeframe in which their compensation is paid, e.g., for tax reasons (Auten and Carroll, 1999; Gruber and Saez, 2002). For instance, the two founders of Google, in a widely reported press story, took $1 each in earnings in 2005. Of course, each one also exercised much less highly taxed stock options, which left them with $1.0 billion or more in ‘asset incomes’ in that year (Ackerman, 2006). Whether for reasons of tax and estate planning, or simple accumulation, the large majority of the gains from wealth, are not realized annually" (s 8f)
Smeeding och Thompson börjar med inkomstbegreppet

I = E + KI + NT

där I är total inkomst, E är arbetsinkomst (inklusive för egenföretagare), KI är kapitalinkomst och NT är nettotransfereringar från staten. Det är alltså posten KI som de ska utveckla. De förklarar att de data på kapitalinkomster som idag används ofta är bristande:
"Despite long-standing interest in labor and capital “factor shares,” macroeconomists (e.g., Goldfarb and Leonard, 2005; Guscina, 2006) and microeconomists who study distribution are both seemingly content with using data where only a small fraction of income from capital is measured. Interest, rent and dividends received are reported in most micro data based income definitions such as the one used by the Census Bureau. Capital gains and losses (KG, including those from realized stock options) and royalties, are counted in other income definitions such as that used by the CBO (2009) and by Federal Reserve Bank in the SCF income distribution measure.
However, the large majority of capital income (KI) accrues to persons but is never realized (and is therefore not counted in any given year). This includes imputed rental flows for owner occupied housing; business savings in the form of corporate and non-corporate retained earnings; and unrealized capital gains. Much of this income stays with the firm that utilizes capital and is not realized by the owners of these assets (except as it is reflected the value of their enterprise, either self owned or as shares of corporate stock)."
Det "mer kompletta inkomstbegreppet" som de använder blir då:

MCI = E + NT + (KG - IRD + IKI)

där MCI är "more complete income", KG är "capital gains" och royalties, IRD är räntor och utdelningar, och IKI är imputerad ökning av förmögenhet (s 11).

Anledningen till att de förändrar kapitalinkomstbegreppet är att de vill komma åt de inkomster från kapital som inte realiseras omedelbart utan istället tar sig uttryck som en ökning av ens förmögenhet.

Inkomstojämlikheten är större med Smeeding och Thompsons MCI-begrepp än med standardbegreppet (s 18). 99-50-ration ökar med 28 procent, medan 50-10-ration är oförändrad; ett mer komplett begrepp om kapitalinkomster ökar alltså föga förvånande inkomsterna mest i toppen av fördelningen. (Detta med bruttoinkomstbegrepp.) Bruttogini med MCI är 0,61 och netto 0,58, för år 2007. De kommenterar: "The story we are telling is one of shifting sources of incomes, especially at the top, from labor to capital income." (s 27)

Och i slutsatserna diskuterar de den nuvarnade fasen av ökad inkomstojämlikhet:
"Not unlike the Medici period in Italy, this “Richistan” (Frank, 2007) pattern is definitely at work in the early 21st century where flat earnings below the 80th percentile and falling median incomes for the non-elderly have drawn repeated questions about where the nation’s productivity gains have gone. (Gordon and Dew-Becker, 2005; Mishel et al, 2005; Lemieux, et al., 2007; Aron-Dine and Shapiro, 2006). The answer is that they went to, and remain in, higher value assets, including higher value corporate assets, proprietor’s incomes, net interest and profits (which drive up stock and bond market returns and the value of business equity).
Institutional and economic change has created a greater emphasis on worldwide ‘free market’ capitalism, high returns to the entrepreneurs—the inventors and creative users of capital (Acemogolou, 2002). These changes have been combined with tax advantages for both capital income and high incomes, and have led to the worsening of the social and political position of labor more generally (Levy and Temin, 2007). All of these factors have contributed to the shift to higher capital vs. labor income. Ever greater global trade and further technological change should only intensify these changes (Blinder, 2007; Freeman, 2007). While some claim labor incomes will rise more in the future than will capital incomes due to world population aging (Krueger and Ludwig, 2006), others see high and rising returns to asset holdings for those with productive assets such as pension savings (Poterba, et al., 2007a; 2007b; Love and Smith, 2007). Indeed while human capital and technology are “racing” for higher income shares (Goldin and Katz, 2006), technology and the entrepreneurs who own and deploy such capital are currently winning the race, and are increasingly likely to receive higher rewards in a world of mobile capital and workers (see also Freeman, 2007)." (s 27f)

Timothy Smeeding och Jeffrey Thompson. 2010. "Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income: Labor, Wealth and More Complete Measures of Well Being". PERI Working Paper. Amherst, MA: Political Economy Research Institute.

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