The Top Tail of the Wealth Distribution in Germany, France, Spain, and Greece

37 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Stefan Bach

Stefan Bach

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Andreas Thiemann

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Aline Zucco

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg-Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg

Date Written: September 2, 2015

Abstract

We analyze the top tail of the wealth distribution in Germany, France, Spain, and Greece based on the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS). Since top wealth is likely to be underrepresented in household surveys we integrate the big fortunes from rich lists, estimate a Pareto distribution, and impute the missing rich. Instead of the Forbes list we mainly rely on national rich lists since they represent a broader base for the big fortunes. As a result, the top percentile share of household wealth in Germany jumps up from 24 percent in the HFCS alone to 33 percent after top wealth imputation. For France and Spain we find only a small effect of the imputation since rich households are better captured in the survey. The results for Greece are ambiguous since the data do not show clear concentration patterns.

Keywords: Wealth distribution, missing rich, Pareto distribution

JEL Classification: D31, C46, C81

Suggested Citation

Bach, Stefan and Thiemann, Andreas and Zucco, Aline, The Top Tail of the Wealth Distribution in Germany, France, Spain, and Greece (September 2, 2015). DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 1502, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655990 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2655990

Stefan Bach (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Andreas Thiemann

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Aline Zucco

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg-Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg ( email )

Schloßplatz 4
Erlangen, DE Bavaria 91054
Germany

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