A revealing new examination of the top 1 percent in a variety of countries brings into focus how the American government’s tax, union bargaining, inheritance and other rules widen the growing divide between those at the top and everyone else.

Four economists found that such wealthy and technologically advanced countries as Japan, France and Germany have seen growth at the top, but not the chasm of inequality created in recent decades in the U.S. and Britain.

That is significant because it means that new technologies and the ability of top talent to work on a global scale cannot explain the diverging fortunes of the top 1 percent and those below, since the Japanese have access to the same technologies and global markets as Americans. The answer must lie elsewhere. The authors point to government policy.

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