DP5090 | Income and Wealth Concentration in Switzerland Over the 20th Century

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This paper presents homogeneous series on top shares of income and wealth in Switzerland since 1913 using personal income and wealth tax return statistics. In contrast to other countries such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or the United States, top income and wealth shares in Switzerland are strikingly flat over the century, and display no secular downtrend from the early part of the century to the post-World War II period. Switzerland hardly ever implemented a very progressive income and wealth tax structure and top income and wealth tax rates have been very low relative to other developed countries. Therefore, our findings for Switzerland lead much credence to the view that the development of very progressive taxation is the central factor explaining the sustained decline in wealth and income concentration in countries such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, or the United States.