From the summary:
This working paper was prepared for a forum on the top one percent to be published in the Summer 2013 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. …
…The debate over the extent and causes of rising inequality of American incomes and wages has now raged for at least two decades. In this paper, we will make four arguments. First, the increase in the incomes and wages of the top 1 percent over in the last three decades should largely be interpreted as driven by the creation and/or redistribution of economic rents, and not simply as the outcome of well-functioning competitive markets rewarding skills or productivity based on marginal differences. This rise in rents accruing to the top 1 percent could be the result of increased opportunities for rent-shifting, increased incentives for rent-shifting, or a combination of both. Second, this rise in incomes at the very top has been the primary impediment to living standards growth for low and moderate-income households approaching the growth rate of economy-wide productivity. Third, because this rise in top incomes is largely driven by rents, there is the potential for checking (or even reversing) this rise through policy measures with little to no adverse impact on overall economic growth. Lastly, this analysis suggests two complementary approaches for policymakers wishing to reverse the rise in the top 1 percent’s share of income: dismantling the institutional sources of their increased ability to channel rents their way and/or reducing the return to this rent-seeking by significantly increasing marginal rates of taxation on high incomes….
Greg Mankiw Forgets to Offer Data for his Biggest Claim
Source: Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, Working Economics blog, June 25, 2013