Chapter

An Overview of Personal Wealth

James B. Davies

in Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199548880
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720765 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548880.003.0001

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

An Overview of Personal Wealth

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This study introduces the the book. There has been much recent interest in the world distribution of income, and in global levels of poverty— which is also measured in terms of income. The study of income needs to be complemented by an examination of the assets, debts, and net worth of individuals and households. The volume starts by looking at wealth in high‐income OECD countries, an area where there is good evidence and considerable previous work. But it moves on quickly to break new ground by looking closely at transition and developing countries. All around the world, wealth is more unequally distributed than income. Concentration has also been growing in recent years, most quickly in countries making the transition from socialism to a market economy. Russia, China, and India receive particular attention. There are also chapters on Africa and Latin America. The crucial role of major asset categories—financial holdings, housing, and land— is examined in stand‐alone chapters. The impact of housing privatization in transition countries, the wealth of the informal sector in developing countries, and the gender dimension of wealth holding also get special attention. The book ends by estimating the level and distribution of wealth for the world as a whole in the year 2000. This study finds that the top 2% of adults held 50% of global personal wealth. Europe on North American, and the high‐income Asian countries had approximately equal shares of about 30% each, with the remaining 10% shared by Africa, Latin America, and low‐income Asia.

Keywords: wealth; income; poverty; inequality; assets

Chapter.  11131 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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