Switzerland

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Overview of Trends of Economic Inequality in Switzerland

 

Has the dispersion of earnings been increasing in recent decades?Yes, the top decile of earnings has increased from 155 per cent of median in 1994 to 184 per cent in 2010.
Has overall inequality increased in recent years?No clear trend.
Have there been periods when overall inequality fell for a sustained period?None evident.
Has poverty been falling or rising in recent decades?Insufficient evidence.
Has there been a U-pattern for top income shares over time?There is evidence of a mild U-pattern with top
decreasing during the 1970s before rising again since mid-90s. However, no great changes in top income shares were recorded over the period as a whole.
Has the distribution of wealth followed the same pattern as income?Yes, but U-pattern was much more visible over the same period.
Additional noteworthy features

Sources and References

Sources for the historical data series:

Overall inequality: Gini coefficient of after tax incomes averaged over 2 years of tax units from Abele and Lüthi, 1977, Tableau 10) based on the estimates including non-taxpayers by Noth (1975, Tabelle 19), where the year identified is second of 2 year period; Gini coefficient of disposable equivalised household income taken from LIS website (Key figures), starting in 1982 and ending in 2004. Since 2006 data on Gini coefficient of disposable equivalised household income taken from EU-SILC, Eurostat website.

Top income shares: Share of top 1 and 0.1 per cent in total gross income from an updated version of Atkinson, Piketty and Saez (2010, Table 13A.9), based on work of Dell, Piketty and Saez (2007). Data obtained from the WTID website.

Poverty: Percentage of individuals living in households with equivalised (modified OECD scale) disposable income less than 60 per cent of the median from EU-SILC data, Eurostat website.

Individual earnings: Data up to 2004 from Atkinson (2008, Appendix R, Table R.4); data after 2004 from OECD I Library, Employment and Labour Market Statistics, Gross earnings decile ratios (note that the series is equivalent to that available on the Federal Statistical Office website, Enquête Suisse sur la structure des salaires, Tableau des salaires nets: secteurs privé et public – Conféderation ).

Wealth: Share of top 1 per cent of households in total personal wealth from Roine and Waldenström, forthcoming.

References:

  • Abele, H A and Lüthi, A P, 1977, “La repartition personelle des revenus en Suisse entre 1941 et 1972” in G Gaudard, H Kleinewerfers and J Pasquier, editors, La politique économique de la Suisse, Editions Universitaires, Fribourg.
  • Atkinson, A B, 2008, The changing distribution of earnings in OECD countries, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Dell, F, Piketty, T and Saez, E, 2007, “Income and wealth concentration in Switzerland over the twentieth century” in A B Atkinson and T Piketty, editors, Top incomes over the twentieth century, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Ecoplan, 2004, Verteilung des Wohlstands in der Schweiz, Berne.
  • Levy, R, Joye, D, Guye, O and Kaufmann, V, 1997, Tous égaux?, Editions Seismo, Zurich.
  • Noth, A, 1975, Die personelle Einkommensverteilung in der Schweiz 1949 bis 1968, Dissertation, Universität Freiburg, Freiburg.
  • Ohlsson, H, Roine, J and Waldenström, D, 2008, “Long-run changes in the concentration of wealth: An overview of recent findings”, in J B Davies, editor, Personal wealth from a global perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Roine, J and and Waldenström, D, forthcoming, “Long run trends in the distribution of income and wealth” in A B Atkinson and F Bourguignon, editors, Handbook of Income Distribution, volume 2, Elsevier, Amsterdam.