What Accounts for the Rising Share of Women in the Top 1%?
The share of women in the top 1% of the UK’s income distribution has been growing over the last two decades (as in several other countries). Our first contribution is to account for this secular change using regressions of the probability of being in the top 1%, fitted separately for men and women, in order to contrast between the sexes the role of changes in characteristics and changes in returns to characteristics. We show that the rise of women in the top 1% is primarily accounted for by their greater increases (relative to men) in the number of years spent in full-time education. Although most top income analysis uses tax return data, we derive our findings taking advantage of the much more extensive information about personal characteristics that is available in survey data. Our use of survey data requires justification given survey under-coverage of top incomes. Providing this justification is our second contribution.
Our initial research on this topic was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (award DP150102409). Burkhauser’s research was partially supported by a Professorial Research Fellowship at the University of Melbourne. Jenkins’s research was also partially supported by core funding of the Research Centre on Micro-Social Change at the Institute for Social and Economic Research by the University of Essex and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (award ES/L009153). We thank Gilles Hérault for developing the routine to code in the SPI composite records. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Richard V. Burkhauser
This project began while I was a Fellow at the University of Melbourne in 2016-2017. I resigned that position and from September 2017 through May 2019 I was a Member of the Council of Economic Advisors. But during my time at CEA I did not work on this paper and none of the content of the paper is related to any work I did while at the CEA.
Since 2017 I have been an emeritus professor at Cornell University. But in 2020 I was asked to be part of an evaluation project funded by the Sloan Foundation that will pay me in excess of $10,000. But this project is not related to the research in this Working Paper.