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The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth

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  • James B. Davies
  • Susanna Sandström
  • Anthony B. Shorrocks
  • Edward N. Wolff

Abstract

We estimate the level and distribution of global household wealth. The levels of assets and debts for 39 countries are measured using household balance sheet and survey data centred on the year 2000. The determinants of mean financial assets, non-financial assets, and liabilities are studied empirically, and the results used to estimate average wealth holdings for countries lacking direct evidence. Data on the pattern of household distribution of wealth are assembled for 20 countries, which together account for 59 per cent of the global population and 75 per cent of global wealth. The observed relation between wealth and income distribution in these 20 countries allows estimates of wealth inequality to be produced for many other nations. Combining the figures for individual countries reveals that net worth averaged US$44,024 per adult in PPP terms across the globe. Wealth of US$8,635 was needed to be in the top half of the global distribution, and US$518,364 to be in the top one per cent. The top 10 per cent owned 71 per cent of world wealth, and the Gini coefficient for the global distribution of wealth is estimated to be 0.802, indicating greater inequality than that observed in the global distribution of consumption or income.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15508.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Publication status: published as James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 223-254, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15508

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Peter Hoeller & Isabelle Joumard & Mauro Pisu & Debra Bloch, 2012. "Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are They Compatible? Part 1. Mapping Income Inequality Across the OECD," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 924, OECD Publishing.
  2. Ogwang, Tomson, 2013. "Is the wealth of the world’s billionaires Paretian?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(4), pages 757-762.
  3. Giuseppe Russo, 2008. "Voting over Selective Immigration Policies with Immigration Aversion," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2008_14, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  4. Michal Brzezinski, 2013. "Income polarization and economic growth," National Bank of Poland Working Papers 147, National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute.
  5. Giovanni D'Alessio, 2012. "Wealth and inequality in Italy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 115, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  6. Takáts, Előd, 2012. "Aging and house prices," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 131-141.
  7. Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico, 2010. "Multidimensional Measurement of Richness: Theory and an Application to Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4825, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Pirmin Fessler & Martin Schürz, 2013. "Cross-Country Comparability of the Eurosystem Household Finance and Consumption Survey," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 2, pages 29–50.
  9. Gabriele Ballarino & Francesco Bogliacino & Michela Braga & Massimiliano Bratti & Daniele Checchi & Antonio Filippin & Virginia Maestri & Elena Meschi & Francesco Scervini, 2012. "GINI Intermediate Report WP 3: Drivers of Growing Inequality," GINI Discussion Papers wp3, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  10. Bas van Bavel & Ewout Frankema, 2013. "Low Income Inequality, High Wealth Inequality.The Puzzle of the Rhineland Welfare States," Working Papers 0050, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  11. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00565224 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Thomas Y. Mathä & Alessandro Porpiglia & Michael Ziegelmeyer, 2014. "Household wealth in the euro area: The importance of intergenerational transfers, homeownership and house price dynamics," BCL working papers 91, Central Bank of Luxembourg.

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