IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Concentration among the Rich


  • Atkinson, A.B.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Atkinson, A.B., 2006. "Concentration among the Rich," WIDER Working Paper Series 151, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2006-151

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul L. Menchik, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U.S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316.
    2. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 382-397, July.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Hansson, Åsa, 2002. "The Wealth Tax and Economic Growth," Working Papers 2002:20, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    6. 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.
    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 375-378, December.
    8. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "A Model of Inherited Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 608-626.
    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 433-451, December.
    10. 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, vol. 57(2), pages 445-487, June.
    11. Sen, Pranab Kumar, 1988. "The harmonic Gini coefficient and affluence indexes," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-76, August.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1990. " The Distribution of Wealth: Measurement and Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 329-360.
    17. 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 315-332, August.
    18. Eva Sierminska & Andrea Brandolini & Timothy Smeeding, 2006. "The Luxembourg Wealth Study – A cross-country comparable database for household wealth research," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(3), pages 375-383, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey Thompson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income: Labor, Wealth and More Complete Measures of Well Being," Working Papers wp225, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    2. repec:taf:rsocxx:v:11:y:2016:i:2-3:p:270-281 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. repec:cep:sticas:/165 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," WIDER Working Paper Series 103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    wealth; inequality; assets; rich;


    Access and download statistics


    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:unu:wpaper:rp2006-151. 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: (Mauricio Roa Grisales). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

    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.