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GINI DP 71: Mapping and Measuring the Distribution of Household Wealth: A Cross-Country Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Frank Cowell

    (CASE, Londeon School of Economics)

  • Karagiannaki, E. (Eleni)
  • Abigail Mcknight

    (London School of Economics, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion)

Abstract

In this paper we compare the level, composition and distribution of household wealth in five industrial countries: the UK, US, Italy, Finland and Sweden. We exploit the harmonized data within the Luxembourg Wealth Study, which we have extended to allow us to examine trends in the UK and the US between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. Remaining differences between surveys, variable definitions and coverage are highlighted to the extent that they impact on cross-country comparisons. We find that the Nordic countries have lower average wealth holdings, smaller absolute gaps between low wealth and high wealth households but high relative measures of wealth inequality. Italian households hold very little debt and are much more likely to own their homes outright, leading to relatively high median levels of wealth. In contrast American households tend to hold much more housing debt well into retirement. Increases in owner occupation and house prices 2000-05 in the UK has led to substantial increases in wealth, particularly median wealth holdings and this had led to falls in relative measures of wealth inequality such as the Gini coefficient even though absolute gaps between high and low wealth households have grown substantially. We show that there are underlying country differences in terms of distributions of age, household composition, educational attainment and income as well as wealth and debt portfolios. Educational loans are increasing in their size and prevalence in some countries and look set to create some marked differences in the distribution of wealth for different age cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Cowell & Karagiannaki, E. (Eleni) & Abigail Mcknight, 2012. "GINI DP 71: Mapping and Measuring the Distribution of Household Wealth: A Cross-Country Analysis," GINI Discussion Papers 71, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:71
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Waitkus, Nora & Minkus, Lara, 2021. "Investigating the gender wealth gap across occupational classes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 108206, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Bönke, Timm & Grabka, Markus M. & Schröder, Carsten & Wolff, Edward N., 2020. "A Head-to-Head Comparison of Augmented Wealth in Germany and the United States," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1140-1180.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Frank Cowell & Karagiannaki, E. & Abigail Mcknight, 2013. "GINI DP 72: Accounting for cross-country differences in wealth inequality," GINI Discussion Papers 72, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    7. Francesco Bogliacino & Daniel Rojas Lozano, 2018. "The Evolution of Inequality in Latin America in the 21st Century: What are the patterns, drivers and causes?," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 71(286), pages 279-308.
    8. Frank Cowell & Eleni Karagiannaki & Abigail McKnight, 2012. "Accounting for Cross-Country Differences in Wealth Inequality," LWS Working papers 13, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    9. Andersen, Torben M. & Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Grodecka-Messi, Anna & Mann, Katja, 2022. "Pension reform and wealth inequality: evidence from Denmark," Working Paper Series 411, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    10. Bogliacino, Francesco & Rojas Lozano, Daniel, 2017. "The evolution of inequality in Latin America in the 21st century: Patterns, drivers and causal hypotheses," MPRA Paper 77803, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Ferrara, Maria & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2017. "Equitable fiscal consolidations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 207-223.
    12. Abigail Mcknight & T. Tsang, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in the United Kingdom," GINI Country Reports united_kingdom, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    13. Deniz Sevinc, 2020. "How Poor is Poor? A novel look at multidimensional poverty in the UK," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 833-859, June.
    14. Abraham, Martin & Lorek, Kerstin & Richter, Friedemann & Wrede, Matthias, 2014. "Strictness of tax compliance norms: A factorial survey on the acceptance of inheritance tax evasion in Germany," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 07/2014, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    household wealth; wealth inequality; debt; housing assets; educational loans; age-wealth profiles JEL codes: C81; D31; D63; I24; I31;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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