The Center for Economics and Public Policy presents “Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data” – 4/21/15

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The Center for Economics and Public Policy presents

“Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data”
with Emmanuel Saez, Professor of Economics and Director of Center for Equitable Growth, UC Berkeley

April 21, 2015
3:30-5:00 p.m.
Social and Behavioral Science Gateway, Room 1517

This talk combines income tax returns with Flow of Funds data to estimate the distribution of household wealth in the United States since 1913. Saez estimates wealth by capitalizing the incomes reported by individual taxpayers, accounting for assets that do not generate taxable income. Saez successfully tests the capitalization method in three micro datasets where both income and wealth can be observed: the Survey of Consumer Finance, linked estate and income tax returns, and foundations’ tax records. Wealth concentration has followed a U-shaped evolution over the last 100 years: It was high in the beginning of the twentieth century, fell from 1929 to 1978, and has continuously increased since then. The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012—a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined. The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality. Top wealth-holders are younger today than in the 1960s and earn a higher fraction of total labor income in the economy. Saez will explain how findings can be reconciled with Survey of Consumer Finances and estate tax data.

For further information, please contact Sylvia Lotito, slotito@uci.edu or 949.824.3344.

View online: http://www.socsci.uci.edu/newsevents/events/2015/2015-04-21-wealth-inequality.php