Thomas Lemieux: Top Incomes in Canada: Evidence from the Census


Monday, September 28, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Malcolm Wiener Auditorium (Taubman G-1)

Thomas Lemieux, Professor and School Director, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia.

After a long period of relative stability in the postwar period, the Canadian earnings and income distribution has changed substantially over the past several decades. One of the most striking developments has been the dramatic rise in incomes at the very top of the income distribution (Saez and Veall, 2005; Veall, 2012).

However, much remains to be learned about top earners and how the characteristics of this group have evolved over time. Are they mainly employees or owners of businesses? How important to their high incomes is labour earnings relative to income from other sources such as investments? What industries and occupations do they work in, and how have these changed over time? What about other personal and demographic characteristics such as gender, educational attainment and province and city of residence?

Using master files from the Canadian Census, this presentation will provide analysis to better understand the factors behind the dramatic increase in top earnings since the early 1980s.

View paper

About the speaker

Thomas Lemieux is a Professor and School Director at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Research Fellow with the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

Recognized internationally as an influential labor economist, Lemieux has written extensively on labor markets and earnings inequality in Canada, the United States, and many other countries. He has made significant technical contributions to methodology in empirical labor economics research, and has widely been credited as the leading authority on decomposition methods in this field.

Most of his recent research revolves around the issue of earnings inequality in Canada and other countries. He is also interested in econometric methods used to analyze the earnings distribution and regression discontinuity designs.

He is the recipient of the 2014 Insight Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), in recognition his contributions to our understanding of immigration, education and inequality, and "more importantly, how to guide public policy in these areas."

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Society of Labor Economists, in 2013-14 Lemieux was president of the Canadian Economics Association. He was also a founding co-editor of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Lemieux was born in Quebec City and obtained his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He taught at MIT and the Université de Montréal before joining the UBC faculty 1999. 

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See also: Fall 2015