October 2022

IZA DP No. 15651: Distributional National Accounts for Australia, 1991-2018

We produce estimates of the full distribution of all national income in Australia for the period 1991 to 2018, by combining household survey with administrative tax microdata and adjusting to match National Accounts aggregates. From these estimates, we are able to rigorously document the shifts in income shares over the period, contrasting changes in the distribution of pre-tax and post-tax national income. Comparing Australia to the US and to France, we also compare our new results to traditional household survey-based estimates of inequality. Moreover, we exploit the richness of our unique microdata to shed light on the distribution of national income across and within various population groups not usually identifiable in the tax datasets that underpin reliable top-income estimates. Among our most surprising findings, inequality of post-tax national income is less than inequality of survey-based (post-transfer, disposable) income for Australia. The gender gap in income has stubbornly remained over the past three decades. Finally, we find that Australian inequality of national income is much lower than that of the United States, while it is similar to that of France, although those at the bottom of the income distribution fare better in France than in Australia.