Isabel Martinez

Isabel Martinez

Isabel Martinez


Postdoctoral Researcher

Fields of research

Wealth inequality


Income inequality


2012-2016: University of St. Gallen, PhD in Economics, DIA Programme

2015-2016: University of California, Berkeley, Visiting Student Researcher

2009-2011: University of Bern, MSc in Economics

2005-2009: University of Bern, B.A. in Economics, Minor: Political Science  

2007-2008: Free University Berlin, one-year Erasmus Exchange

Professional Career

since April 2020: Post-Doctoral Researcher, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zürich

since Jan. 2018: Member Swiss Competition Commission WEKO

2017-2020: Economist, Swiss Federation of Trade Unions SGB (part-time)

2017-2020: Post-Doctoral Researcher / Project Manager, SIAW-HSG, University of St. Gallen (part-time)

2016-2017: Luxembourg Institute for Socio-Economic Research LISER, Post-Doctoral Researcher

2012-2016: Research Assistant / PhD Candidate, SIAW-HSG, University of St. Gallen

2009-2011: Research Assistant, Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB-USS), Bern


The Influence of Taxation on Wealth and Income Inequality

SNSF project number 176458 


The rapid change of inequality in incomes and wealth in the

world has led to a surge of scientific interest in the topic. Along with

top income shares, top wealth shares have been increasing since the

1980s, especially in the U.S. (Kopczuk and Saez, 2004) but also in

European countries. While there is a mature empirical literature on

(top) income inequality, the knowledge on both the dynamics of (top)

wealth inequality and the economic forces driving them, is still

limited.Analyzing the case of Switzerland, we want first to understand

how top wealth shares evolved on a regional level (Work Package 1).

Second, we analyze wealth mobility and the joint distribution of income

and wealth. To understand the differences in living standards, it is

central to know whether high income earners also control a large part of

private wealth (Work Package 2). Using historical data we are able to

extend the analysis back to the 1940s and uncover

changes over time. This descriptive part of the study is a contribution

to the literature on wealth concentration and mobility at the top in

itself, and it documents the large variation we observe today across


Work Package 3 then assesses, theoretically and empirically,

the influence of taxes on wealth concentration, using cantonal

variation. To put the evolution wealth accumulation into broader

context, the last Work Package 4 then looks at the wealth-income ratio

in Switzerland, following the recent strand in the literature on the

distribution of income and wealth that has started to estimate aggregate

wealth-to-income ratios in a consistent manner across countries and

over time, including Piketty (2014) and Piketty and Zucman (2014).


do we analyze Switzerland? First of all, the Swiss case is of great

interest because it is a major industrialized country with a large

financial sector, which also plays a major role in the tax sheltering of

large fortunes (Zucman, 2013). Tax competition within Switzerland and

the absence of wars have kept taxes on income and wealth low and have

not foreclosed possible wealth accumulation. In addition, both large

amounts of foreign assets are deposited in Switzerland, and net foreign

assets of Swiss residents are very large, due to ongoing current account

surpluses. Second, Switzerland is an ideal laboratory to draw empirical

inference. 26 cantons have different tax rates but otherwise comparable

conditions, making it the ideal setting to study outcomes at the

macro-level with panel-econometrics methods.The majority of earlier

studies have to rely on survey data, since not many countries have a

comprehensive wealth tax. Instead, our project makes use of tax data,

which cover a large part of the population, which allows to give a much

more comprehensive understanding of wealth inequality and mobility.

Building on an established working experience with tax data and sharing

our results with leading researchers in the field, we are confident to

achieve the aims of our study.












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