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Where is the middle class? Inequality, gender and the shape of the upper tail from 60 million

Cummins, Neil (2019) Where is the middle class? Inequality, gender and the shape of the upper tail from 60 million. Economic History working papers. The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Abstract

This paper analyses a newly constructed individual level dataset of every English death and probate from 1892-2016. The estimated top wealth shares match closely existing estimates. However, this analysis clearly shows that the 20th century’s ‘Great Equalization’ of wealth stalled in mid-century. The probate rate, which captures the proportion of English with any significant wealth at death rose from 10% in the 1890s to 40% by 1950 and has stagnated to 2016. Despite the large declines in the wealth share of the top 1%, from 73% to 20%, the median English person died with almost nothing throughout. All changes in inequality after 1950 involve a reshuffling of wealth within the top 30%. Further, I find that a log-linear distribution fits the empirical data better than a Pareto power law. Finally, I show that the top wealth shares are increasingly and systematically male as one ascends in wealth, 1892-1992, but this has equalized over the 20th century.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N0 - General > N00 - General
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N33 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N34 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: 1913-
D - Microeconomics > D3 - Distribution > D31 - Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2019 15:36
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2019 00:04
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100098

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