Krugman highlighted a great site on his blog this week. And it is a great site, so here’s the link if you haven’t seen it.
The World Top Incomes Database has income distribution data for 22 countries, with more being added, over long periods of time. Go to the graphics page and you can call up series for different shares of the population for your favourite countries.
I went for the top 5 percent of tax payers in the UK, US and Denmark since 1900. The top 5 percent of earners in the US and UK have gobbled 25-30 percent of national personal incomes in recent years. In Denmark — the country which consistently tops out the rankings in European ‘happiness’ surveys — the percentage is consistently under 15 percent. (UK and US shares were of course lower until the well-known inflection point in the 1970s).
Unfortunately I can’t reproduce the graph here. But you can make your own.