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Top wealth shares in the UK over more than a century

Author

Listed:
  • Facundo Alvaredo

    (Paris School of Economics)

  • Anthony Atkinson

    (Oxford University)

  • Salvatore Morelli

    (Centro Studi di Economia e Finanza)

Abstract

Recent research highlighted controversy about the evolution of concentration of personal wealth. In this paper we provide new evidence about the long-run evolution of top wealth shares for the United Kingdom. The new series covers a long period – from 1895 to the present – and has a different point of departure from the previous literature: the distribution of estates left at death. We find that the application to the estate data of mortality multipliers to yield estimates of wealth among the living does not substantially change the degree of concentration over much of the period both, in the UK and US, allowing inferences to be made for years when this method cannot be applied. The results show that wealth concentration in the UK remained relatively constant during the first wave of globalization, but then decreased dramatically in the period from 1914 to 1979. The UK went from being more unequal in terms of wealth than the US to being less unequal. However, the decline in UK wealth concentration came to an end around 1980, and since then there is evidence of an increase in top shares, notably in the distribution of wealth excluding housing in recent years. We investigate the triangulating evidence provided by data on capital income concentration and on reported super fortunes.

Suggested Citation

  • Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony Atkinson & Salvatore Morelli, 2016. "Top wealth shares in the UK over more than a century," Working Papers 201702, World Inequality Lab.
  • Handle: RePEc:wel:wpaper:201702
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Clara Toledano, 2017. "House Price Cycles, Wealth Inequality and Portfolio Reshuffling," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-02797549, HAL.
    2. Anthony B. Atkinson, 2018. "Wealth and inheritance in Britain from 1896 to the present," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 137-169, June.
    3. Anastasios Evgenidis & Apostolos Fasianos, 2019. "Monetary Policy and Wealth Inequalities in Great Britain: Assessing the role of unconventional policies for a decade of household data," Papers 1912.09702, arXiv.org.
    4. Facundo Alvaredo & Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Global Inequality Dynamics: New Findings from WID.world," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 404-409, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Nora Lustig, 2018. "Measuring the Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth: State of Play and Measurement Challenges," Working Papers 1801, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    7. 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.
    8. Nitin Bharti, 2018. "Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02878149, HAL.
    9. Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Global Wealth Inequality," NBER Working Papers 25462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Pirmin Fessler & Martin Schürz, 2018. "The functions of wealth: renters, owners and capitalists across Europe and the United States," Working Papers 223, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
    11. repec:ajk:ajkpbs:001 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Thomas Piketty & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2018. "The End of the Rentiers: Paris 1842-1957," Working Papers halshs-02797891, HAL.
    13. Juan C. Palomino & Gustavo A. Marrero & Brian Nolan & Juan G. Rodriguez, 2020. "Wealth inequality, intergenerational transfers and socioeconomic background," Working Papers 537, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    14. Hauner, Thomas & Milanovic, Branko & Naidu, Suresh, 2017. "Inequality, Foreign Investment, and Imperialism," MPRA Paper 83068, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Pirmin Fessler & Martin Schürz, 2020. "Structuring the Analysis of Wealth Inequality using the Functions of Wealth: A Class-Based Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Turdaliev, Nurlan, 2019. "Monetary policy, heterogeneous population and inflation," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 277-292.
    17. Clara Toledano, 2017. "House Price Cycles, Wealth Inequality and Portfolio Reshuffling," Working Papers halshs-02797549, HAL.
    18. Yonatan Berman & Salvatore Morelli, 2020. "On the Distribution of Estates and the Distribution of Wealth: Evidence from the Dead," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Frémeaux, Nicolas & Leturcq, Marion, 2020. "Inequalities and the individualization of wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    20. Thomas Piketty & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2018. "The End of the Rentiers: Paris 1842-1957," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-02797891, HAL.
    21. Clara Toledano, 2017. "House Price Cycles, Wealth Inequality and Portfolio Reshuffling," PSE Working Papers halshs-02797549, HAL.
    22. Dmitry Kuvshinov & Kaspar Zimmermann, 2018. "The Big Bang: Stock Market Capitalization in the Long Run," Working Papers 0136, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    23. Kuvshinov, Dmitry & Zimmermann, Kaspar, 2018. "The Big Bang: Stock Market Capitalization in the Long Run," MPRA Paper 88581, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. Kuvshinov, Dmitry & Zimmermann, Kaspar, 2018. "The big bang: Stock market capitalization in the long run," IBF Paper Series 02-18, IBF – Institut für Bank- und Finanzgeschichte / Institute for Banking and Financial History, Frankfurt am Main.
    25. Salvatore Morelli, 2020. "The Dynamics of Wealth Concentration: Thoughts on Tony Atkinson’s Contributions," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 197-205, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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