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Article

Команда Т. Пикетти о неравенстве в России: коллекция статистических артефактов

Вопросы экономики. 2020. № 4. С. 67-106.

The paper provides a critical assessment of an authoritative study “From Soviets to oligarchs” (2017) on evolution of economic inequality in Russia by F. Novokmet, T. Piketty and G. Zucman where Russia is portrayed as a country with abnormally polarized income distribution by international standards. The author examines main quantitative results obtained by Piketty’s team, describes peculiar methodological features of their measuring procedure and analyzes how they dissect available empirical data sets. A general conclusion is that the trio uses an unconventional methodology that does not allow to apply equivalence scales; their argument suffers from internal inconsistencies (different units of observation and different definitions of income are used); they misunderstand the nature of data that form a base for their calculations (simulated estimates are perceived as raw survey data, post-tax incomes as pretax ones, etc.); deduction and declaration coefficients that they impose on tax data are empirically improbable; their final estimates of income inequality for Russia are higher than empirically realistic ones approximately by one third (Gini coefficients 0.5—0.6 instead of 0.3—0.4 by other researchers).