Academic Literature

US – Back to early 20th century wealth concentration levels at the very top finds research

Income inequality has increased sharply since the 1980s yet surveys show modest increase in wealth concentration

One possible explanation: rising inequality is a pure labor income phenomenon

– Rise in top incomes due to top wage earners/entrepreneurs only – The working rich may not have had enough time to accumulate

– Or they may have low saving rates, face very high tax rates, give a lot to charities, have low returns on their assets … preventing them from accumulating large fortunes

Is this view well-founded? Our answer is “No”

Based on new estimates of wealth and capital income distributions, we find:

– Large increase in top 0.1% wealth share since 1980s (top 0.1% = wealth above $20 million today)

– Even larger proportional increase for top 0.01% (top 0.01% = wealth above $100 million today)

– Rising top capital income shares – No increase below the top 0.1%

At very top, US back to early 20th century wealth concentration levels

Capture d’écran 2014-04-14 à 09.17.11

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