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Using wage income tax statistics, the authors construct continuous series of upper wage income shares in Japan from 1951 to 2005 to document the evolution of top wage incomes and investigate their long-run determinants. They find that, while the middle wage income class gained enormously both in absolute and relative terms during the period of high economic growth, the upper wage income class faired comparatively better after 1975. In particular, the share of total wage accruing to the top 1% wage earners has risen steadily in the last ten years.
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