Global Wealth Inequality

Posted: 4 Sep 2019

See all articles by Gabriel Zucman

Gabriel Zucman

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2019


This article reviews the recent literature on the dynamics of global wealth inequality. I first reconcile available estimates of wealth inequality in the United States. Both surveys and tax data show that wealth inequality has increased dramatically since the 1980s, with a top 1% wealth share of approximately 40% in 2016 versus 25–30% in the 1980s. Second, I discuss the fast-growing literature on wealth inequality across the world. Evidence points toward a rise in global wealth concentration: For China, Europe, and the United States combined, the top 1% wealth share has increased from 28% in 1980 to 33% today, while the bottom 75% share hovered around 10%. Recent studies, however, may underestimate the level and rise of inequality, as financial globalization makes it increasingly hard to measure wealth at the top. I discuss how new data sources (leaks from financial institutions, tax amnesties, and macroeconomic statistics of tax havens) can be leveraged to better capture the wealth of the rich.

Suggested Citation

Zucman, Gabriel, Global Wealth Inequality (August 2019). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 11, pp. 109-138, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Gabriel Zucman (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

579 Evans Hall
Berkeley, CA 94709
United States

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