International comparisons of wealth inequality

Edward N. Wolff

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    This study presents reasonably comparable estimates of the size distribution of household or personal wealth for eight OECD countries - Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the mid-1980s, the U.S. ranked as the most unequal and Japan the least, while the other six countries had roughly comparable levels of wealth inequality. Moreover, while wealth inequality rose sharply in the U.S. during the 1980s, it increased modestly in Sweden and showed little change or a slight decline in Canada, France, and the U.K. A comparison of time trends for the U.K. and the U.S. suggests that the relatively high wealth inequality in the U.S. in the 1980s represents a marked turnaround from the 1950s, when the U.S. was considerably more equal in terms of wealth ownership than the U.K. Comparative results for the two countries hold for both conventional (marketable) wealth and for augmented wealth, which includes a valuation of public and private pension wealth.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)433-451
    Number of pages19
    JournalReview of Income and Wealth
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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