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Mapping and measuring the distribution of household wealth: A cross-country analysis

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  • Frank A Cowell
  • Eleni Karagiannaki
  • Abigail McKnight

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 A Cowell & Eleni Karagiannaki & Abigail McKnight, 2012. "Mapping and measuring the distribution of household wealth: A cross-country analysis," CASE Papers case165, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Mapping and measuring the distribution of household wealth: A cross-country analysis
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2012-12-11 20:04:47

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    Cited by:

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    2. 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).
    3. Massimiliano Agovino & Maria Ferrara, 2017. "Can civilian disability pensions overcome the poverty issue? A DSGE analysis for Italian data," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 51(4), pages 1469-1491, July.
    4. 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.
    5. 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, vol. 122(3), pages 1140-1180.
    6. Maria Ferrara & Patrizio Tirelli, 2014. "Fiscal Consolidations: Can We Reap the Gain and Escape the Pain?," Working Papers 283, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2014.
    7. Michael, Bryane & Hartwell, Christopher A. & Ho, Gary, 2013. "Does Financial Market Development Explain (or at Least Predict) the Demand for Wealth Management and Private Banking Services in Developing Markets?," EconStor Preprints 109960, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    8. Agovino, Massimiliano & Ferrara, Maria, 2015. "Disabilità e povertà: il ruolo delle pensioni di invalidità civile. Un'analisi DSGE per i dati italiani [Disability and poverty: the role of civilian disability pensions. A DSGE analysis for Italia," MPRA Paper 65616, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Ferrara, Maria & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2017. "Equitable fiscal consolidations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 207-223.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. repec:cep:sticas:/168 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
    18. Giorgio Motta & Patrizio Tirelli, 2013. "Limited Asset Market Participation, Income Inequality and Macroeconomic Volatility," Working Papers 261, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2013.
    19. Eurosystem Household Finance and Consumption Network, 2013. "The Eurosystem Household Finance and Consumption Survey - Results from the first wave," Statistics Paper Series 2, European Central Bank.
    20. 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.
    21. Massimiliano Agovino & Maria Ferrara, 2022. "Disabilit?: diseguaglianza sociale ed economica. Un?analisi empirica e teorica," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2022(1), pages 11-42.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    household wealth; wealth inequality; debt; housing assets; educational loans; age-wealth profiles;
    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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