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Tulane University

CEQ Working Paper No 21: Inequality and top incomes in Uruguay: a comparison between household surveys and income tax micro-data


Inequality and top incomes in Uruguay: a comparison between household surveys and income tax micro-data
Working Paper No. 21

A working document by:
Gabriel Burdín
Fernando Esponda
Andrea Vigorito

Abstract
After increasing over more than a decade, recent studies based on household surveys data show that income inequality in Uruguay started to decline in 2008. In this study we assess whether this trend is robust to the use of novel micro-data from the recently restored Uruguayan personal income tax for the years 2009-2011. We analyze primary income and pensions and carry out to main comparative exercises. In the first part of the paper, we adjust household surveys to make them comparable to tax records. After that, we follow the methodology proposed by Atkinson et al (2011) and Alvaredo (2011) to compute top income shares and corrected inequality measures. We also investigate the redistributive effect of the personal income tax burden in the two data sets. Inequality indexes depict a similar trend in inequality reduction, even though the decrease is less sharp in tax records than in harmonized household surveys. According to our estimations from income tax data, the share of the top 1% did not decline in this period, and was situated around 14%. Household survey data underestimate the share of the top 1% in total income by approximately 3 p.p. and depict an opposite trend in the top shares evolution throughout the period compared to the one observed in income tax micro-data. This result might be revealing an increasing difficulty of ECH for capturing very high incomes. Finally, personal income tax in Uruguay redistributes roughly 2 p.p. of the Gini index. Effective tax rates exhibit a progressive pattern in the case of total income, labour income and pensions, whereas they are slightly regressive when considering capital income.

Access the working document here:
Updated May 2014
CEQ Working Paper No 21: Inequality and top incomes in Uruguay: a comparison between household surveys and income tax micro-data

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Latin American Writers Series: Alberto Barrera Tyszka

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Ecuadorian writer and Tulane Visiting Scholar Gabriela Alemán interviews Venezuelan writer Alberto Barrera Tyszka about his life, interests, and influences. Their discussion will be followed by an open Q&A and an informal reception. This event will be held in Spanish.

About the Latin American Writers Series

This series brings together Latin America’s most representative creative voices and the editorial entrepreneurs that publish them. By way of interviews conducted by renowned Ecuadorian writer Gabriela Alemán and presentations of various editorial missions, the guests will shed light on a literary world shaped by the contemporary issues of the continent. Moving forward, their conversations will comprise the centerpiece of a digital archive that introduces their ideas to a global audience.

Este serie reúne a los autores más representativos de la escritura continental y los editores que los publican. A través de entrevistas con la reconocida escritora ecuatoriana Gabriela Alemán y presentaciones de proyectos editoriales, los invitados explorarán los vínculos entre el mundo literario y la realidad continental. Sus conversaciones se convertirán después en el eje de un archivo digital que busca llevar estas ideas a un público global.

About the Author

Born in Caracas, Alberto Barrera Tyszka has published over a dozen works of poetry, short story, chronicle, novel, and biography. His most recent publications include the novels Patria o Muerte (2015) and Rating (2011), the poetic anthology La inquietud (2013), the collection of chronicles Un país a la semana (2013), and the short story collection Crímenes (2009). In 2005, he collaborated with Cristina Marcano to write the definitive biography of Hugo Chávez, Hugo Chávez sin uniforme: una historia personal (2005). Patria o muerte won the 2015 Premio Tusquets de Novela, and his novel La enfermedad, translated into English as The Sickness (2010), received the 2006 Herralde Award. Barrera also writes for television and has scripted soap operas for Venezuelan, Mexican, Colombian, and Argentinian networks.