In the News

Gabriel Zucman, L&S Economics Professor, Named 2021 Carnegie Fellow

Gabriel Zucman, associate professor of economics at the UC Berkeley College of Letters & Science, associate professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, and director of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality, has been selected as one of 26 recipients of the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship Award.

COVID-19: Economic impact, human solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic is confronting every level of the U.S. economy with an unprecedented challenge, and the government must mount a sustained, ambitious economic response lasting months and perhaps years, UC Berkeley economists said in an online forum today.

Seven early-career faculty win Sloan Research Fellowships

Seven assistant professors from the fields of astronomy, biology, computer science, economics and statistics have been named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows. They are among 126 scholars from the United States and Canada whose early-career achievements mark them as being among today’s very best scientific minds. Winners receive $70,000 over the course of two years toward a research project.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
December 9, 2021
The globe's 2,750 billionaires now control 3 percent of all wealth, up from 1 percent in 1995 — that makes them wealthier than half the planet, according to a new report from a group founded by economist Thomas Piketty. The wealth gap is roughly as wide as it was more than a century ago when the Gilded Age led to massive disparities between rich and poor, the World Inequality Lab found. The study was coordinated by Piketty, an expert on inequality known for his book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," as well as fellow inequality experts Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley.
April 28, 2021
Michael T. Nietzel
The Carnegie Corporation of New York announced the 2021 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows today. UC Berkeley professor of economics Gabriel Zucman is one of the 26 new fellows who will receive $200,000 to fund significant research and writing in the social sciences and humanities on a range of important social issues. A Carnegie Fellow award can be used for a period of up to two years, and it's anticipated that a book or major study will result from a fellow's work.
March 22, 2021
Richard Rubin
The top sliver of high-income Americans dodge significantly more in income taxes than the Internal Revenue Service's methods had previously assumed, according to forthcoming estimates from IRS researchers and academic economists. Research on tax avoidance and evasion can be difficult and imprecise because it requires seeing what has been intentionally hidden. The paper emphasizes that more work is needed to measure tax compliance by high-income Americans. The authors include John Guyton and Patrick Langetieg of the IRS, Max Risch of Carnegie Mellon University and Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley economist who has advocated an annual wealth tax.
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March 19, 2020
Associated Press
As financial markets worldwide plummet, infected by fear and uncertainty over the COVID-19 coronavirus, Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published a paper this week, predicting that the U.S. gross domestic product could contract by more than 7% this year if more parts of the country impose shelter-in-place orders like those the Bay Area has instituted through April 7, at least. They believe our government must become a "payer of last resort" for businesses and individuals who may be unable to pay their bills during the crisis. "The government can prevent a very sharp but short recession from becoming a long-lasting depression," they say.
February 21, 2020
Jim Tankersley, Ben Casselman
An in-depth profile of Berkeley economists Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez begins: "One of the most liberal policy proposals animating the Democratic presidential primaries is the handiwork of two French economists who are not formally advising any campaign and have barely met the candidates running for the White House. ... [They] are the driving force behind proposals for a wealth tax, an idea embraced by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as a way to reduce economic inequality by forcing the richest Americans to pay taxes on everything they own and diverting that money to public services like universal health care and free college tuition. ... Their efforts documenting a sharp increase in the concentration of wealth at the very top and their outspokenness have vaulted the tax from a fringe idea in American politics to the center of a reinvigorated debate on taxing the rich." In an interview, they talked about their research and their critics. Referring to voters' unhappiness with inequality in the U.S., Professor Zucman said: "Clearly it's been central to the campaign," but he adds: "Let me be very clear that the wealth tax is not going to solve all these problems. It's part of the solution."
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October 16, 2019
An article on economists' shifting thoughts on wealth taxes focuses on the work of Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. Professors Saez and Zucman have found that the top 0.1% of taxpayers accounted for about 20% of American wealth in 2012, up from 7% of wealth in 1978 and close to levels last seen in 1929. They believe that concentrated wealth leads to concentration of political power, and that undermines democracy. But they say there are other concerns, as well. For example, in a recent paper they noted that the ratio of household wealth to national income in the U.S. has nearly doubled over the past 40 years, largely due to the rising value of assets. Those higher asset values could mean that either companies are becoming more efficient or economic sclerosis is setting in. Property values may be increasing because regulations make it difficult to build, and higher stock prices could mean that markets are becoming less competitive. Taxing and redistributing wealth could thus be seen as a justified response to misfiring markets.
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October 9, 2019
Christopher Ingraham
For the first time in history, the 400 wealthiest Americans paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class did in 2018, according to new data presented in a book co-authored by Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. The book, called The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, explores how this trend developed and how it could be reversed. According to this reporter: "The relatively small tax burden of the super rich is the product of decades of choices made by American lawmakers, some deliberate, others the result of indecisiveness or inertia, Saez and Zucman say. Congress has repeatedly slashed top income tax rates, for instance, and cut taxes on capital gains and estates. Lawmakers also have failed to provide adequate funding for IRS enforcement efforts and allowed multinational companies to shelter their profits in low-tax nations. ... But the tipping point came in 2017, with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The legislation, championed by President Trump and then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, was a windfall for the wealthy: It lowered the top income tax bracket and slashed the corporate tax rate." Stories on this topic have appeared in nearly 100 sources, including the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle Online, and the New York Times.
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October 7, 2019
David Leonhardt
The 400 wealthiest Americans paid a lower total tax rate than any other income group last year, according to new data in a book co-authored by Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. The book, called The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, is set for release next week, and according to this columnist, it's "the most important book on government policy that I've read in a long time." He continues: "They have constructed a historical database that tracks the tax payments of households at different points along the income spectrum going back to 1913, when the federal income tax began. The story they tell is maddening -- and yet ultimately energizing. ... 'Many people have the view that nothing can be done,' Zucman told me. 'Our case is, "No, that's wrong. Look at history."' As they write in the book: 'Societies can choose whatever level of tax progressivity they want.' When the United States has raised tax rates on the wealthy and made rigorous efforts to collect those taxes, it has succeeded in doing so. ... And it can succeed again."
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February 13, 2019
Dion Rabouin

No country (apart from Russia) for which estimates of wealth inequality are available has similarly high recorded levels of wealth inequality, writes assistant economics professor Gabriel Zucman in a new report on the staggeringly uneven wealth distribution in the U.S. today. According to his report, the top 1 percent owns at least 40 percent of the country's entire household wealth. As this reporter points out: "Perhaps the most interesting part of Zucman's research may be his point that the top 1% of American households likely hold much more of the nation's and the world's wealth than anyone realizes." For instance, he estimates that 8 percent of the world's household financial wealth is held in offshore tax shelters. "It is not enough to study wealth concentration using self-reported survey data or tax return data," he says. "Because the wealthy have access to many opportunities for tax avoidance and tax evasion -- and because the available evidence suggests that the tax planning industry has grown since the 1980s as it became globalized -- traditional data sources are likely to under-estimate the level and rise of wealth concentration." Stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources, including Marketwatch. For more on this, link to Professor Zucman's report here.

February 8, 2019
Christopher Ingraham
U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties, assistant economics professor Gabriel Zucman writes in a new working paper on the country's staggeringly uneven wealth distribution. To wit: the richest 400 Americans -- a mere 0.00025 percent of the population -- own more of the nation's assets than the 150 million adults -- or 60 percent of the population -- occupying the lower rungs of the wealth ladder. Furthermore, that slim segment of the population at the top has tripled its share of the wealth since the 1980s, while the poorer 60 percent experienced a 3.6 percent drop, from a 5.7 percent share in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014. Of course, Professor Zucman warns that these numbers may be underestimated, since it's become so difficult to assess the true wealth of the ultra-rich, partly because of the popularity of offshore tax shelters. For more on this, link to Professor Zucman's report here. Another story on this topic appeared in Fortune.
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