Jonathan Goupille-Lebret

jonathan.goupille-lebret (at)


CNRS researcher at the University of Lyon, ENS Lyon, GATE-LSE

World Inequality Lab research fellow


NEW: Predistribution vs. Redistribution: Evidence from France and the U.S., with Antoine Bozio, Bertrand Garbinti, Malka Guillot, and Thomas Piketty, CEPR DP15415

Abstract: How much redistribution policies can account for long-run changes in inequality? To answer this question, we quantify the extent of redistribution over time by the percentage reduction from pretax to post-tax inequalities, and decompose the changes in post-tax inequalities into different redistributive policies and changes in pretax inequalities. To estimate these redistributive statistics, we construct homogenous annual series of post-tax national income for France over the 1900-2018 period, and compare them with those recently constructed for the U.S. We obtain three major findings. First, redistribution has increased in both countries over the period, earlier in the U.S., later in France, to reach similar levels today. Second, the substantial long-run decline in post-tax inequality in France over the 1900-2018 period is due mostly to the fall in pretax inequality (accounting for three quarters of the total decline), and to a lesser extent to the direct redistributive role of taxes, transfers and other public spending (about one quarter). Third, the reason why overall inequality is much smaller in France than in the U.S. is entirely due to differences in pretax inequality. These findings suggest that policy discussions on inequality should, in the future, pay more attention to policies affecting pretax inequality and should not focus exclusively on “redistribution”. [Old 2018 WP]

FINAL: Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France, with Bertrand Garbinti and Thomas Piketty. Accepted to the Journal of the European Economic Association. Appendix

Abstract: Measuring and understanding the evolution of wealth inequality is a key challenge for researchers, policy makers, and the general public. This paper breaks new ground on this topic by presenting a new method to estimate and study wealth inequality. This method combines fiscal data with household surveys and national accounts in order to provide annual wealth distribution series, with detailed breakdowns by percentiles, age and assets. Using the case of France as an illustration, we show that the resulting series can be used to better analyze the evolution and the determinants of wealth inequality dynamics over the 1970-2014 period. We show that the decline in wealth inequality ends in the early 1980s, marking the beginning of a rise in the top 1% wealth share, though with significant fluctuations due largely to asset price movements. Rising inequality in saving rates coupled with highly stratified rates of returns has led to rising wealth concentration in spite of the opposing effect of house price increases. We develop a simple simulation model highlighting how changes in the combination of unequal saving rates, rates of return and labor earnings that occurred in the early 1980s generated large multiplicative effects that led to radically different steady-state levels of wealth inequality. Taking advantage of the joint distribution of income and wealth, we show that top wealth holders are almost exclusively top capital earners, and less and less are made up of top labor earners; it has become increasingly difficult in recent decades to access top wealth groups with one’s labor income only.

Articles in French:

Dissemination of scientific knowledge:

in English:

in French:

Co-organizer of the workshop PPD@ENSLyon