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Top-income adjustments and official statistics on income distribution: the case of the UK


UK official statistics on income distribution have incorporated top-income adjustments to household survey data since 1992. This article reviews the work undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office for National Statistics, and the academic research that influenced them, and reflects on the lessons to learn from the UK experience.

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The data used in Table 1 and Figs. 1 and 2 and how to access them are described in the replication materials for Burkhauser et al. (2018b). The sources of the data used in Figs. 3 and 4 are the publicly available spreadsheets cited in the notes to the figures.


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This paper was prepared for a special issue of the Journal of Economic Inequality on ‘Finding the upper tail’. Many thanks to Richard Burkhauser, Nicholas Hérault, and Roger Wilkins. I have drawn heavily on our joint work (especially Burkhauser et al. 2018a, 2018b) in Sections 2 and 3 but they are not responsible for how I have done so. Richard Burkhauser and Nora Lustig provided helpful comments on earlier drafts.

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Correspondence to Stephen P. Jenkins.

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Jenkins, S.P. Top-income adjustments and official statistics on income distribution: the case of the UK. J Econ Inequal 20, 151–168 (2022).

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JEL Classification Codes

  • D31
  • C81


  • Inequality
  • Income inequality
  • Top incomes
  • Tax return data
  • Survey data
  • Data combination
  • SPI adjustment