IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/10368.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What Do We Know About Evolution of Top Wealth Shares in the United States?

Author

Listed:
  • Kopczuk, Wojciech

Abstract

I discuss available evidence about the evolution of top wealth shares in the United States over the last one hundred years. The three main approaches – Survey of Consumer Finances, estate tax multiplier techniques and capitalization method – generate generally consistent findings until mid-1980s but diverge since then, with capitalization method showing a dramatic increase in wealth concentration and the other two methods showing at best a small increase. I discuss strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. The increase in capitalization estimates since 2000 is driven by a dramatic and surprising increase in fixed income assets. There is evidence that estate tax estimates may not be sufficiently accounting for mortality improvements over time. The non-response and coverage issues in the SCF are a concern. I conclude that changing nature of top incomes and the increased importance of self-made wealth may explain difficulties in implementing each of the methods and account for why the results diverge.

Suggested Citation

  • Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2015. "What Do We Know About Evolution of Top Wealth Shares in the United States?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10368
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10368
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld02-1, May.
    2. Martin S. Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Introduction to "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 1-10, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2012. "Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 18584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cagetti, Marco & De Nardi, Mariacristina, 2008. "Wealth Inequality: Data And Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 285-313, September.
    5. Saez, Emmanuel & Zucman, Gabriel, 2014. "Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 10227, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Kopczuk, Wojciech & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Top Wealth Shares in the United States, 1916-2000: Evidence From Estate Tax Returns," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 57(2), pages 445-487, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Thomas F. Crossley & Cormac O'Dea & Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony B. Atkinson & Salvatore Morelli, 2016. "The Challenge of Measuring UK Wealth Inequality in the 2000s," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 13-33, March.
    2. Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data," NBER Working Papers 20625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Thomas Goda, 2018. "The global concentration of wealth [Persistence of power, elites, and institutions]," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(1), pages 95-115.
    4. Frank A. Cowell & Philippe Kerm, 2015. "Wealth Inequality: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 671-710, September.
    5. Elinder, Mikael & Erixson, Oscar & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "Inheritance and wealth inequality: Evidence from population registers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 17-30.
    6. Toda, Alexis Akira & Walsh, Kieran James, 2014. "The Equity Premium and the One Percent," MPRA Paper 79009, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 28 Feb 2017.
    7. Thomas Piketty, 2011. "On the Long-Run Evolution of Inheritance: France 1820--2050," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1071-1131.
    8. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin, 2018. "Skewed Wealth Distributions: Theory and Empirics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(4), pages 1261-1291, December.
    9. Giovanni Gallipoli & Brant Abbott, 2017. ""Permanent Income" Inequality," 2017 Meeting Papers 1033, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Rodrigo Leandro de Moura & Jaime de Jesus Filho & Paulo S�rgio Braga Tafner & Ligia Helena da Cruz Ourives, 2013. "Social security effects on income distribution: a counterfactual analysis for Brazil," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(7), pages 631-637, May.
    11. De Nardi, Mariacristina & Yang, Fang, 2016. "Wealth inequality, family background, and estate taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 130-145.
    12. Coronado Julia Lynn & Fullerton Don & Glass Thomas, 2011. "The Progressivity of Social Security," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-45, November.
    13. Jesse Bricker & Alice Henriques & Jacob Krimmel & John Sabelhaus, 2016. "Measuring Income and Wealth at the Top Using Administrative and Survey Data," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 47(1 (Spring), pages 261-331.
    14. Alan J. Auerbach & Kerwin K. Charles & Courtney C. Coile & William Gale & Dana Goldman & Ronald Lee & Charles M. Lucas & Peter R. Orszag & Louise M. Sheiner & Bryan Tysinger & David N. Weil & Justin W, 2017. "How the Growing Gap in Life Expectancy May Affect Retirement Benefits and Reforms," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 42(3), pages 475-499, July.
    15. Flavia Coda Moscarola & Margherita Borella, 2015. "The 2011 Pension Reform in Italy and its Effects on Current and Future Retirees," CeRP Working Papers 151, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    16. Inyong Shin, 2018. "Could pension system make us happier?," Cogent Economics & Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 1452342-145, January.
    17. 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.
    18. Andras Simonovits, 2020. "Indexing public pensions in progress to wages or prices," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 2015, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.
    19. Stanislav Klazar & Barbora Slintáková, 2012. "How Progressive is the Czech Pension Security?," Prague Economic Papers, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2012(3), pages 309-327.
    20. Christopher D. Carroll & Edmund Crawley & Jiri Slacalek & Matthew N. White, 2021. "Modeling the Consumption Response to the CARES Act," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 17(1), pages 107-141, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wealth inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10368. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.