Wednesday, August 7, 2019

In Conversation with Gabriel Zucman — Heather Boushey with Gabriel Zucman

In this installment, Equitable Growth Executive Director Heather Boushey talks with Gabriel Zucman, professor in the Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on global wealth, inequality, and tax havens. Zucman also is co-director of the World Inequality Database, a database aiming at the provision of access to extensive data series on the world distribution of income and wealth.
In an in-depth conversation about his research and its implications for public policymaking, Boushey and Zucman discuss:
  • The creation of distributional national accounts
  • The importance of distributional national accounts
  • The significance of rising income inequality in the United States
  • How income inequality in the United States compares to other countries
  • What new research needs to be done on measuring economic inequality…
Zucman: There are two different conversations going on today. One is about macroeconomic growth, which relies on national accounts data: macroeconomic statistics of [Gross Domestic Product] growth, investment, consumption, etc. This is what macroeconomists talk about. Then you have a second conversation, which is about inequality. In academia, when scholars study inequality, they use tax data and survey data. The problem is that there is a big disconnect between what you see in tax and survey data and what you see in the national accounts data. As a result, there is a disconnect between these two conversations.

Generally, we either talk about growth or about inequality, but rarely about the two together. The distributional national accounts we’re constructing are an attempt at bridging the gap between macroeconomics, on the one hand, and inequality studies on the other hand. The way we try to do that is by distributing the totality of national income—a comprehensive measure of income that is very close to GDP. To have a comprehensive view of how all of GDP (or all of national income) is distributed in the United States, we combine survey data and tax data in a systematic way....
Of course, it’s not possible for incomes to grow for each group of the population more than GDP. Yet oftentimes, you see reports where that is being shown. Our goal in this project is to make sure that things add up—that income growth across the income pyramid adds up to national income growth. That’s the main goal, and it’s important because it yields new insights about what’s happening to inequality in the United States....
WCEG — The Equitablog
In Conversation with Gabriel Zucman
Heather Boushey with Gabriel Zucman

See also at WCEG
Kaldor and Piketty’s facts: The rise of monopoly power in the United States
Gauti Eggertsson, Professor of Economics, Brown University; Jacob A. Robbins, Ph.D. Candidate, Brown University, and Ella Getz Wold, Ph.D. Candidate, Brown University

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