01 March 2011

Wealth Inequality

Most scholars agree that wealth inequality in the United States is at historic highs, with some estimates suggesting that the top 1% of Americans hold nearly 50% of the wealth, topping even the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920’s. . . . in the United States, the top wealth quintile owns 84% of the total wealth, the second highest 11%, [the third quintile 4%, the fourth quintile 0.2% and the last quintile 0.1%].

From here (Hat Tip Colorado Pols).

In Sweden, the quintiles share of national wealth are respectively 36%, 21%, 18%, 15% and 11%, a distribution preferred by 92% of Americans surveyed and even 89% of Americans with incomes in excess of $100,000 per year. This result, of course, in not terribly surprising, as the Swedish wealth distribution means more wealth for everyone in the bottom four quintiles and only slightly less wealth (collectively) for those in the top quintile who were are not in the top 1%. Indeed, the Swedish wealth distribution would probably be an improvement for everyone in the bottom 95% of the wealth distribution, and would be a deep reduction in wealth mostly for those in the top 2% of the wealth distribution.

Most Americans believe that wealth is distributed much more equally than it actually is and also believe that wealth should be distributed more equally than that, although perfect wealth equality is unpopular.

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