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Estimating the Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth

Author

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  • Davies, James B.
  • Sandstrom, Susanna
  • Shorrocks, Anthony
  • Wolff, Edward N.

Abstract

We provide the first estimate of the level and distribution of global household wealth. Mean assets and debts within countries are measured, partly or wholly, for 38 countries using household balance sheet and survey data centred on the year 2000. Determinants of mean financial assets, non-financial assets, and liabilities are studied empirically, and the results are used to impute values to countries lacking wealth data. Household wealth per adult is US$43,494 in PPP terms, and ranges regionally from US$11,655 in Africa to US$193,147 in North America. Data on the shape of the household distribution of wealth for 20 countries, accounting for 59 per cent of the world?s population and, we estimate, 84 per cent of its wealth are used to establish patterns of wealth inequality within countries. Imputations are again performed for countries lacking wealth data, on the basis of the observed relation between wealth and income distribution for the 20 countries with data. The Gini coefficient for the global distribution of wealth is 0.804, and the share of the top 10 per cent is 71 per cent. Wealth of US$8,325 is needed to be in the top half of the distribution, and US$517,601 is needed to be in the top one per cent. Between-country differences in wealth are two-thirds of global inequality according to the Gini coefficient, indicating a larger role for within-country inequality than in the case of income according to recent estimates.

Suggested Citation

  • Davies, James B. & Sandstrom, Susanna & Shorrocks, Anthony & Wolff, Edward N., 2007. "Estimating the Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," WIDER Working Paper Series 077, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2007-77
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    Cited by:

    1. Olympia Bover, 2010. "Wealth Inequality And Household Structure: U.S. Vs. Spain," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(2), pages 259-290, June.
    2. Brinca, Pedro & Holter, Hans A. & Krusell, Per & Malafry, Laurence, 2016. "Fiscal multipliers in the 21st century," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 53-69.
    3. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward Wolff, 2009. "The global pattern of household wealth," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(8), pages 1111-1124.
    4. repec:oup:cambje:v:42:y:2018:i:1:p:95-115. is not listed on IDEAS
    5. DAVIES, JAMES B & Shorrocks, Anthony & Sandstrom, Susanna & WOLFF, EDWARD N, 2007. "The World Distribution of Household Wealth," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt3jv048hx, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
    6. Shorrocks, Anthony & Wan, Guanghua, 2008. "Ungrouping Income Distributions: Synthesising Samples for Inequality and Poverty Analysis," WIDER Working Paper Series 016, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Popov, Vladimir, 2018. "Paradoxes of Happiness: Why People Feel More Comfortable With High Inequalities And High Murder Rates?," MPRA Paper 87118, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Thomas Goda, 2014. "Global trends in relative and absolute wealth concentrations," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF 010897, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
    9. Polterovich, Victor & Popov, Vladimir & Tonis, Alexander, 2009. "Instability of Democracy as Resource Curse," MPRA Paper 22069, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wealth; net worth; personal assets; inequality; households; portfolios; balance sheets;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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