Journal Article

The global concentration of wealth

Thomas Goda

in Cambridge Journal of Economics

Volume 42, issue 1, pages 95-115
Published in print January 2018 | ISSN: 0309-166X
Published online April 2017 | e-ISSN: 1464-3545 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/bex020
The global concentration of wealth

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Abstract

This paper compares changes in relative and absolute wealth concentrations to establish whether both processes have followed similar trajectories. The findings indicate that while the relative wealth concentration level has increased in recent times, it is not extraordinarily high from a historical perspective. In contrast, the absolute wealth concentration level is most likely higher than has ever previously occurred, due to the growth of per capita wealth holdings and the population size of high net worth individuals (HNWIs). The available data also suggest that HNWIs recovered very quickly from the losses that they experienced in the financial crisis of 2008. As a result, HNWIs’ wealth holdings in 2013 were at least 30% higher than they were in 2007. The post-crisis recovery of billionaires was even stronger, with their 2014 net wealth holdings more than 85% higher than 2007 levels.

Keywords: Wealth inequality; Wealth concentration; Extraordinary wealth; High net worth individuals (HNWIs)

Journal Article.  9927 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics ; Macroeconomics: Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment ; Labour and Demographic Economics ; Other Economic Systems

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