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Income and Wealth Above the Median: New Measurements and Results for Europe and the United States

What Drives Inequality?

ISBN: 978-1-78973-378-5, eISBN: 978-1-78973-377-8

Publication date: 16 September 2019


The study of the upper tail of the income and wealth distributions is important to the understanding of economic inequality. By means of the ‘isograph’, a new tool to describe income or wealth distributions, the authors compare wealth and income and wealth-to-income ratios in 16 European countries and the United States using data for years 2013/2014 from the Eurozone Household Finance and Consumption Survey and the US Survey on Consumer Finance. Focussing on the top half of the distribution, the authors find that for households in the top income quintile, wealth-to-income ratios generally increase rapidly with income; the association between high wealth and high incomes is highest among the highest percentiles. There is generally a positive relationship between median wealth in the country and the wealth of the top 1%. However, the United States is an outlier where the median wealth is relatively low but the wealth of the top 1% is extremely high.




This work was supported by the National Research Fund Luxembourg (FNR) in the frame of the project FNR/P11/05 Prosocial. Comments from participants to the 6th Luxembourg Workshop on Household Finance and Consumption are gratefully acknowledged.


Chauvel, L., Hartung, A., Bar-Haim, E. and Kerm, P.V. (2019), "Income and Wealth Above the Median: New Measurements and Results for Europe and the United States", Decancq, K. and Kerm, P.V. (Ed.) What Drives Inequality? (Research on Economic Inequality, Vol. 27), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 89-104.



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