How Much Has Wealth Concentration Grown in the United States? A Re-Examination of Data from 2001-2013

53 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2018 Last revised: 29 Apr 2020

See all articles by Jesse Bricker

Jesse Bricker

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Alice Henriques Volz

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Peter Hansen

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: 2018-04-13

Abstract

Well known research based on capitalized income tax data shows robust growth in wealth concentration in the late 2000s. We show that these robust growth estimates rely on an assumption---homogeneous rates of return across the wealth distribution---that is not supported by data. When the capitalization model incorporates heterogeneous rates of return (on just interest-bearing assets), wealth concentration estimates in 2011 fall from 40.5% to 33.9%. These estimates are consistent in levels and trend with other micro wealth data and show that wealth concentration increases until the Great Recession, then declines before increasing again.

Keywords: Wealth concentration, Household wealth

JEL Classification: D31, D14, H00, E6

Suggested Citation

Bricker, Jesse and Henriques Volz, Alice and Hansen, Peter, How Much Has Wealth Concentration Grown in the United States? A Re-Examination of Data from 2001-2013 (2018-04-13). FEDS Working Paper No. 2018-024, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3187674 or http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2018.024

Jesse Bricker (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Alice Henriques Volz

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Peter Hansen

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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