收入大分化

华盛顿—托马斯·皮克提(Thomas Piketty)的书《二十一世纪资本论》(Capital in the Twenty-First Century)吸引了全世界的注意,让资本积累与不平等性的关系成为经济争论的中心。皮克提的观点如此特殊,是因为他坚持认为资本主义增长的内在性质到这了一个基本趋势。这一论断遵循了十九世纪和二十世纪早期伟大经济学家的传统。在这个微博时代,他写出了一本厚达近千页的畅销书。

本书是皮克提和包括牛津大学的托尼·阿特金森(Tony Atkinson)在内的多人多年苦心研究的结果。其中包括一些处理超大数据集,特别是如何测量英国资本收入的小问题。但他们所识别的长期趋势——美国和其他主要经济体资本所有者占收入比例上升以及“初级收入”(税收和转移支付前收入)集中于收入分配最顶层——是不容置疑的。

回报递减定律让我们知道,每一新增单位资本的回报是递减的。皮克提的结论的一个关键是,最近几十年来资本的递减(如有)远远低于资本成长速度,从而导致资本收入占比上升。

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