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International Comparisons Of Wealth Inequality

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  • Edward N. Wolff

Abstract

This study presents reasonably comparable estimates of the size distribution of household or personal wealth for eight OECD countries—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the mid‐1980s, the U.S. ranked as the most unequal and Japan the least, while the other six countries had roughly comparable levels of wealth inequality. Moreover, while wealth inequality rose sharply in the U.S. during the 1980s, it increased modestly in Sweden and showed little change or a slight decline in Canada, France, and the U.K. A comparison of time trends for the U.K. and the U.S. suggests that the relatively high wealth inequality in the U.S. in the 1980s represents a marked turnaround from the 1950s, when the U.S. was considerably more equal in terms of wealth ownership than the U.K. Comparative results for the two countries hold for both conventional (marketable) wealth and for augmented wealth, which includes a valuation of public and private pension wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward N. Wolff, 1996. "International Comparisons Of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-451, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:42:y:1996:i:4:p:433-451
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4991.1996.tb00193.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4991.1996.tb00193.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Sanoussi Bilal & Jean-Marie Grether & Jaime de Melo, 2015. "Attitudes Towards Immigration: A Trade Theoretic Approach," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Developing Countries in the World Economy, chapter 18, pages 439-453, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Cagetti, Marco & De Nardi, Mariacristina, 2008. "Wealth Inequality: Data And Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 285-313, September.
    3. Arthur B. Kennickell, 2003. "A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001," Others 0311002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. John Laitner, 2001. "Wealth Accumulation in the U.S.: Do Inheritances and Bequests Play a Significant Role?," Working Papers wp019, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    5. Arthur B. Kennickell, 2003. "A rolling tide: changes in the distribution of wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Andrew Sharpe & Alexander Murray & Benjamin Evans & Elspeth Hazell, 2011. "The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being: Estimates for Canada, 1999 and 2005," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_680, Levy Economics Institute.
    7. Edward N. Wolff, 1998. "Recent Trends in the Size Distribution of Household Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
    8. Andrew Sharpe & Alexander Murray & Benjamin Evans & Elspeth Hazell, 2011. "The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being: Estimates for Canada, 1999 and 2005," CSLS Research Reports 2011-09, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    9. Philip Vermeulen, 2018. "How Fat is the Top Tail of the Wealth Distribution?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(2), pages 357-387, June.
    10. Arthur B. Kennickell, 2000. "An Examination of Changes in the Distribution of Wealth From 1989 to 1998: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Macroeconomics 0004054, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. John Laitner, 2002. "Wealth Inequality and Altruistic Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 270-273, May.
    12. John Laitner, 2001. "Modeling the Macroeconomic Implications of Social Security Reform," Working Papers wp015, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    13. Yonatan Berman & Eshel Ben-Jacob & Yoash Shapira, 2016. "The Dynamics of Wealth Inequality and the Effect of Income Distribution," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(4), pages 1-19, April.

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