It's the moment nosy Norwegian neighbors have been waiting for — the release of official records showing the annual income and overall wealth of nearly every taxpayer in the Scandinavian country.
In a move that would be unthinkable elsewhere, tax authorities in Norway have issued the ''skatteliste,'' or ''tax list,'' for 2008 to the media under a law designed to uphold the country's tradition of transparency…
Many media outlets use the tax records to produce their own searchable online databases. In the database of national broadcaster NRK, you can type a subject's name, hit search and within moments get information on what that person made last year, what was paid in taxes and total wealth….
The information had been available to media until 2004, when a more
conservative government banned the publication of tax records. Three
years later, a new, more liberal government reversed the legislation
and also made it possible for media to obtain tax information digitally
and disseminate it online.
There has got to be more than one dissertation here. Aside from the obvious issues of studying the distribution of wealth over time and cross-sectionally the three year break raises possibilities such as testing whether making salary and wealth information public encourages people to work more or less and whether public information about income increases or decreases inequality.
Perhaps most interesting–does conspicuous consumption fall and efficiency increase in a society in which income is conspicuous?