Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macroevidence and Implications for Global Inequality

CEBI Working Paper No. 04/17

34 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2018

See all articles by Annette Alstadsæter

Annette Alstadsæter

School of Economics and Business, NMBU

Niels Johannesen

University of Copenhagen

Gabriel Zucman

UC Berkeley

Date Written: September 3, 2017


Drawing on newly published macroeconomic statistics, this paper estimates the amount of household wealth owned by each country in offshore tax havens. The equivalent of 10% of world GDP is held in tax havens globally, but this average masks a great deal of heterogeneity - from a few percent of GDP in Scandinavia, to about 15% in Continental Europe, and 60% in Gulf countries and some Latin American economies. We use these estimates to construct revised series of top wealth shares in ten countries, which account for close to half of world GDP. Because offshore wealth is very concentrated at the top, accounting for it increases the top 0.01% wealth share substantially in Europe, even in countries that do not use tax havens extensively. It has considerable effects in Russia, where the vast majority of wealth at the top is held offshore. These results highlight the importance of looking beyond tax and survey data to study wealth accumulation among the very rich in a globalized world.

Keywords: inequality, wealth, tax evasion, tax havens

JEL Classification: H26, H87, E21

Suggested Citation

Alstadsaeter, Annette and Johannesen, Niels and Zucman, Gabriel, Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macroevidence and Implications for Global Inequality (September 3, 2017). CEBI Working Paper No. 04/17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3108384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3108384

Annette Alstadsaeter (Contact Author)

School of Economics and Business, NMBU ( email )

P.O. Box 5003
NO-1432 Aas

HOME PAGE: http://www.nmbu.no/emp/annette.alstadsater

Niels Johannesen

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165

Gabriel Zucman

UC Berkeley ( email )

579 Evans Hall
Berkeley, CA 94709
United States

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