Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings

PERSONAL WEALTH FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, J.B. Davies, ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008

36 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2008

See all articles by Henry Ohlsson

Henry Ohlsson

Uppsala University - Department of Economics

Jesper Roine

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics

Daniel Waldenström

Research Institute of Industrial Economics

Date Written: July 12, 2008

Abstract

Our objective is to study the dynamics of the wealth distribution over the path of economic development. More specifically, we are interested in distinguishing between changes which seem to be country specific and characteristics shared by all countries. A historical account of the evolution of the wealth distribution in developed countries is interesting in itself. But it can also hold implications for countries that are currently in an early stage of development or in transition. The data we use originate from the taxation of wealth and estates. We, first, review the recent constructions of new historical series of top wealth distribution for the US, France, the UK, and Switzerland. Second, we provide new corresponding data for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Comparing Scandinavia to other Western countries is interesting for several reasons: (i) Scandinavia was late to industrialize, we can, therefore, cover the whole period from preindustrial society until today. (ii) The Scandinavian "mixed economies" are extremes in the spectrum of welfare states. (iii) Sweden and Switzerland did not take part in any of the World Wars. Our first main result is that the wealth shares of the top percentiles decreased during the 1900s in all countries except Switzerland. Second, there are much less of common patterns during industrialization in the 1800s.

Keywords: Wealth Concentration, Inequality, Income Distribution, Wealth Distribution, Sweden

JEL Classification: D31, H20, J30, N30

Suggested Citation

Ohlsson, Henry and Roine, Jesper and Waldenstrom, Daniel, Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings (July 12, 2008). PERSONAL WEALTH FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, J.B. Davies, ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1300541

Henry Ohlsson

Uppsala University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, SE-75120
Sweden
+46 18 471 51 04 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uueconomics.se/henryo/

Jesper Roine

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6501
Sveavagen 65
S-113 83 Stockholm
Sweden
+46-8-7369000 (Phone)

Daniel Waldenstrom (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/danielw

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