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Concentration among the Rich

The aim of this paper is to examine the concentration of wealth among the group of top wealth holders, defined as those with wealth in excess of a high cut off. The paper begins by considering the definition of this cut off, analogous to the definition of a poverty line at the other end of the distribution. It then considers what can be learned about the proportion classified as ?rich? and about the concentration among the rich from four non-survey sources: journalists? lists, estate data, wealth tax data, and investment income tax data. It starts off from the world?s billionaires in 2006, but is particularly concerned with changes over time within countries, taking France, Germany, the UK, and the USA, to illustrate the different sources.

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Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number RP2006/151.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2006-151
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  1. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1967. "Distribution of Income and Wealth Among Individuals," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 238, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Atkinson, Anthony B & Gordon, James P F & Harrison, Alan, 1989. "Trends in the Shares of Top Wealth-Holders in Britain, 1923-1981," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 51(3), pages 315-32, August.
  3. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Top Wealth Shares in the United States: 1916-2000: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," NBER Working Papers 10399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Atkinson, A B & Harrison, Alan J, 1975. "Mortality Multipliers and the Estate Duty Method," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 37(1), pages 13-28, February.
  5. Thomas Piketty & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2006. "Wealth Concentration in a Developing Economy: Paris and France, 1807–1994," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 236-256, March.
  6. Sen, Pranab Kumar, 1988. "The harmonic Gini coefficient and affluence indexes," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-76, August.
  7. Rubinstein, William D, 1971. "Occupations Among British Millionaires, 1857-1969," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 17(4), pages 375-78, December.
  8. Davies, James B. & Shorrocks, Anthony F., 2000. "The distribution of wealth," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 605-675 Elsevier.
  9. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "International Comparisons of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-51, December.
  10. Lindh, Thomas & Ohlsson, Henry, 1998. "Self-Employment and Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(1), pages 25-42, March.
  11. A. W. Dilnot, 1990. "The Distribution and Composition of Personal Sector Wealth in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 23(1), pages 33-40.
  12. Charles Stewart, 1939. "Income Capitalization as a Method of Estimating the Distribution of Wealth by Size Groups," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in Income and Wealth, Volume 3, pages 95-146 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Eva Sierminska & Andrea Brandolini & Timothy Smeeding, 2006. "The Luxembourg Wealth Study – A cross-country comparable database for household wealth research," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 375-383, December.
  14. Blinder, Alan S, 1973. "A Model of Inherited Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 608-26, November.
  15. Hansson, Åsa, 2002. "The Wealth Tax and Economic Growth," Working Papers 2002:20, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  16. Menchik, Paul L, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U. S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316, March.
  17. Matti Tuomala & Jouko Vilmunen, 1988. "On the trends over time in the degree of concentration of wealth in Finland," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 184-190, Autumn.
  18. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1990. " The Distribution of Wealth: Measurement and Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 329-60.
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