Volume 22, Number 1 (March 2013)
The Journal of Income Distribution, Volume 22, Number 1 (March 2013) is now posted in its electronic form. The print copy of this issue will be out shortly as well. The Editorial Office of the Journal extends its apologies to readers for the continuing delay. The JID has had the good fortune to have had some of its previous well-trained staff return to the Editorial Office, but the limited available hours of the academic team, involved in all phases of its production, still translates into a lag in the Journal's publication calendar. Manuscript preparation continues steadily, however, and the pace of dissemination should pick up in the next few months.
The timely topic of the "elite" is addressed in both theoretical and empirical ways in this issue. The JID welcomes the opportunity to publish theoretical research, an example of which in this issue would be Aleksandr Grigoryan's "A Model for Anocarcy". Grigoryan's article presents a dynasty model developed with a non-benevolent planner who maximizes the welfare of a size-adjusted elite. In the model, joining the elite is costly, as it provides access to financial intermediation for new entrants. Elites alternate with each other, and successors discipline their predecessors with expropriation threats on collected rents should too many licenses for intermediation be sold, as that accelerates the wealth equalization process. This disciplinary mechanism lends itself, however, to mitigating wealth differences, since it creates both a burden on corruption and expansion of the elite through intermediaries. This model, the author argues, is useful to describe the role of the elite in the evolution of incomplete democracies (anocracies).
Empirical research which touches the subject of elite power through wealth is also very timely. This is the case with the article "Top Heavy: A Study on Wealth Distribution in Malaysia" by Muhammed Bin Abdul Khalid which underlines that changes in the educational system, the taxation regime, and in poverty-alleviation programs in Malaysian should be made rather sooner than later to alleviate a growing situation in which a sizeable number of Malaysians do not possess any wealth at all and more than half do not own any financial assets. The main data used in this study is derived from the Malaysian Household Income Survey of 2009, which still remains the most recent survey of the Malaysian Economic Planning Unit, although the author, well aware that older studies can appear dated, has compared these findings with more recent ones of the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources.
While Volume 22, Number 1 of the JID is not actually a Special Issue dedicated to the elite in income distribution, with three of its five articles stemming from an interest in the topic, it is a dominant theme. Petri Böckerman the author of the third of these articles, "Top Income Shares and Mortality: Evidence from Advanced Countries", looks specifically at characteristics among top income shares, measured as the shares of pre-tax income going to the richest 0.1. The subject tackled is their effect on crude death and infant mortality rates, including balanced panel data from nine different countries, over the period 1952-1998: Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
This JID issue brings together as well two articles related through their theme of analysing methodological approaches to issues in the field of income inequality. The last of the issue's articles, "A Comparison of Modern Wage Decomposition Approaches" by Andreas Behr, offers a detailed discussion and four different applications of the decomposition method to explain men's wage distributions in the United States and Germany in 2007: the approach of Juhn, Murphy and Pierce of 1991 and 1993, that suggested by Machado and Mata in 2001 and 2005, the approach suggested by Donald, Green and Paarsch in 2000 and finally, the one suggested by DiNardo et al. in 1996 and Fortin and Lemieux in 1998.
This issue's fourth article, "The Logarithmic Progressive Income Tax", proposes a different approach to the progressivity of the personal income tax in the United States, pursuing the potential for application of a logarithmic progression in the form t/g = M log g + B, such that everyone at all income levels would be subject to the same progressivity. This would alter the national understanding of income tax progressivity, as it is presently simply set by the United States Congress. It is argued by the author Lawrence Briskin that both the "flat rate" (asymptotic) tax and the uniform tax rate above $373,650 in the current code contradict the key premise of the progressive income tax concept, that persons at different income levels value a fixed amount of money differently, which he feels strongly opens the door to reconsideration in the United States tax code.
The Journal of Income Distribution, Volume 22, Number 1 (March 2013) also contains the reviews of two books which appeared in 2013, one from Routledge, the other of Palgrave MacMillan.
Readers are reminded that in addition to the contents of the current issue, all those of previous issues dating back to the Volume 15 Index Issue are available in full to subscribers, either in print or on-line here. For all issues past and current, Tables of Contents and Abstracts are freely available on-line.
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