US Economy
Richest 1% own up to 37% of US wealth; Germany’s richest hold 33% of country's wealth
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 16, 2014 - 9:21 AM

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The richest 1% is richer than previously thought and  instead of an estimate of the richest controlling 30% of US wealth it may be as high as 37%, while Germany’s richest hold 33% of the country's wealth compared with the 24% survey data previously indicated, according to European Central Bank (ECB) research.

Philip Vermeulen, an economist at the ECB, said in a paper that  by using data from Forbes' billionaires lists in a new analysis, his estimates the share of wealth controlled by America's top 1% is between 35% and 37%.

"Our knowledge of the wealth distribution is less than perfect," Vermeulen writes. "Our results clearly indicate that survey wealthy estimates are very likely to underestimate wealth at the top."

The paper says: "Good measurement of these relative shares of wealth holdings are important. For instance, macro-economic models are sometimes calibrated using these shares. In addition, the wealth distribution is a topic of broad public interest. "

It adds: "Up to recently, relatively little was known about the wealth distribution of households for most countries in the euro area. That should not be too surprising. Knowledge of thewealth distribution of households is only possible if it is somehow measured."

The rich tend to understate their wealth in surveys.

The richest Italians control 20% of national wealth compared with the 14% earlier suggested.

In the Netherlands, for instance, the top 1% of the wealthy are estimated to control 26% of the country's wealth, but Vermeulen's analysis boosted that to 28% to 35%.


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