January 23, 2017
Written by WID.world

New paper and series on wealth concentration in the UK

The new series cover a long period, from 1895 to the present. 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.

Highlights: A remarkable change has taken place in the position of top wealth holders in the UK over the past 100 years. Before the First World War, the top 5 per cent of wealth holders owned around 90 per cent of total personal wealth. There were very few owner-occupiers. A hundred years later, the share was around 40 per cent. The top 1 per cent used to own two-thirds of total wealth; their share is now around one fifth. This is still a highly concentrated distribution: the top 1 per cent have some 20 times their proportionate share.

Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, and Salvatore Morelli, Top wealth shares in the UK over more than a century, WID.world Working Paper.