April 19, 2021
Written by WID.world

The concentration of personal wealth in Italy

The concentration of personal wealth in Italy 1995-2016

Italy is one the countries with the highest wealth-to-income ratio in the developed world. Yet, despite the growing policy interest, knowledge about the size distribution of wealth is currently limited. In this paper, Paolo Acciari, Facundo Alvaredo and Salvatore Morelli expand the windows of observation on the distribution of personal wealth using a novel source on the full record of inheritance tax files. The data cover up to 63% of the deceased population and are available between 1995 and 2016, a period of substantial economic turbulence and structural reform for the Italian economy. The benchmark results rely on the distribution of the net wealth observed in the National Accounts balance sheets. The authors explore the role of household wealth portfolios, accumulation patterns during the life cycle, and inheritance flows, its concentration, and taxation patterns as main drivers of the trends observed. A range of alternative series of wealth concentration helps us better understand the role of adjustments and imputations and is based on a multi-series approach, i.e., comparing the pieces of information given by different and competing sources.


Key findings

  • Italy is one the countries with the highest wealth-to-income ratio in the developed world
  • Since the mid-1990s, wealth concentration and inequality have significantly risen
  • Italy stands out as one of the countries with the strongest decline in the wealth share of the bottom 50% of the adult population
  • Whereas the level of wealth concentration in Italy is in line with those of other European countries, its time trend appears more in line with the U.S. experience.


Figures : The inversion of fortunes between 1995 and 2016

Wealth concentration in Italy, World Inequality Lab


The graphs show the shares of total personal net wealth accrued by the bottom 50% of the adult population (25 million individuals in 2016) ranked by total net wealth holdings, the richest 0.1% (50,000 individuals), the top 10%, the middle 40%, and the bottom 50%, benchmark definition.




  • Paolo Acciari (Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance); paolo.acciari@mef.gov.it
  • Facundo Alvaredo (Paris School of Economics; INET – Oxford ; IIEP-UBA-Conicet): alvaredo@gmail.com
  • Salvatore Morelli (University of Roma ; Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at GC-CUNY) : smorelli@uniroma3.it

Media inquiries

  • Olivia Ronsain: olivia.ronsain@wid.world; +33 7 63 91 81 68



The authors are grateful to Charlotte Bartels, Yonatan Berman, Giovanni D’Alessio, Riccardo De Bonis, Carolyn Fisher, Giacomo Gabbuti, Janet Gornick, Elena Granaglia, Arthur Kennickell, Clara Martinez-Toledano, Marco Ranaldi, Alfonso Rosolia, Peter Van de Ven, Giovanni Vecchi, Gabriel Zucman, for fruitful discussions and feedbacks. They thank Francesco Bloise, Demetrio Guzzardi, and Ercio Muñoz for excellent research assistance. The authors acknowledge  financial support from the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the Graduate Center CUNY (SM), INET (FA and SM), and the ERC (FA). SM acknowledges support during visiting periods from the Fondazione Lelio e Lisli Basso, the Department of Social Policy and Intervention and the Nuffield College at the University of Oxford.