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Estimating the distribution of household wealth in South Africa

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  • Aroop Chatterjee
  • Léo Czajka
  • Amory Gethin

Abstract

This paper estimates the distribution of personal wealth in South Africa by combining tax microdata, household surveys, and macroeconomic balance sheet statistics. We systematically compare estimates of the wealth distribution obtained by direct measurement of net worth, rescaling of reported wealth to balance sheet totals, and capitalization of income flows. We document major inconsistencies between available data sources, in particular regarding the measurement of dividends, corporate assets, and wealth held through trusts.

Suggested Citation

  • Aroop Chatterjee & Léo Czajka & Amory Gethin, 2020. "Estimating the distribution of household wealth in South Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2020-45, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp-2020-45
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Capital Accumulation, Private Property, and Rising Inequality in China, 1978–2015," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(7), pages 2469-2496, July.
    2. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2019. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France," Working Papers 1935, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    3. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony Atkinson & Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Distributional National Accounts (DINA) Guidelines : Concepts and Methods used in WID.world," Working Papers halshs-02794308, HAL.
    4. Filip Novokmet & Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "From Soviets to oligarchs: inequality and property in Russia 1905-2016," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 189-223, June.
    5. Garbinti, Bertrand & Goupille-Lebret, Jonathan & Piketty, Thomas, 2018. "Income inequality in France, 1900–2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts (DINA)," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 63-77.
    6. Thomas Blanchet & Lucas Chancel & Amory Gethin, 2019. "How Unequal is Europe? Evidence from Distributional National Accounts, 1980-2017," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02877000, HAL.
    7. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2016. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)," PSE Working Papers halshs-02794339, HAL.
    8. Alstadsæter, Annette & Johannesen, Niels & Zucman, Gabriel, 2018. "Who owns the wealth in tax havens? Macro evidence and implications for global inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 89-100.
    9. John Muellbauer & Janine Aron, 1999. "Estimates of personal sector wealth for South Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 1999-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    10. Reza C. Daniels & Taryn Augustine, 2016. "The Measurement and Distribution of Household Wealth in South Africa using the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Wave 4," SALDRU Working Papers 183, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    11. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Capital Accumulation, Private Property, and Rising Inequality in China, 1978–2015," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(7), pages 2469-2496, July.
    12. Anna Orthofer, 2015. "Private Wealth in a Developing Country: A South African Perspective on Piketty," Working Papers 564, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    13. Samson Mbewe & Ingrid Woolard, 2016. "Cross-Sectional Features of Wealth Inequality in South Africa: Evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study," SALDRU Working Papers 185, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    14. Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Editor's Choice Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 519-578.
    15. repec:fth:oxesaf:99-17 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. EdwardN. Wolff, 1989. "Trends In Aggregate Household Wealth In The Us., 1900–83," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 35(1), pages 1-29, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Administrative data; households balance sheets; income capitalization; micro-macro gap; national accounts; wealth distribution; wealth surveys;

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