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Changes in Disposable Personal Income and the Gender Personal Income Gap in Sweden, 1983–2010: A Study of Three Different Income Positions

Journal article
Authors Birgitta Jansson
Published in Social science history
Volume 44
Issue 2
Pages 381-408
ISSN 0145-5532
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Social Work
Pages 381-408
Language en
Keywords income inequality, income distribution, disposable personal income, gender gap, total population, Sweden
Subject categories Social Work, Economic History


In recent decades, the Swedish economy has been characterized by rather fast economic growth. At the same time, income inequality has increased substantially. In the present study, I investigated who has gained and who has been left behind during this period—how disposable personal income has changed for men and women, as well as for those in different positions in the income distribution. Register data for the total population (aged 20 to 80 years old) from 1983 to 2010 were used and three different positions in the income distribution were investigated: percentile 10, the median, and percentile 99. Five years were selected: 1983, 1991, 2000, 2006, and 2010. Each selected year represents a snapshot and describes the general trend. Results show that women in the 10th percentile have increased their income quite well, a result of increased female labor force participation during the period. This has led to a decrease of the income gap between genders within this group. But results also show a masculinization of low income and poverty, as the male incomes in this group have not increased to the same extent as for males in the other income groups. At the median, both men and women experienced a steady increase of incomes, but the gender gap for ages younger than 50 widened between 2000 and 2010. At the very top, percentile 99, the increase in disposable personal income was enormous; however, the gender gap in income did not decrease.

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