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Where is the middle class? Inequality, gender and the shape of the upper tail from 60 million English death and probate records, 1892-2016

Cummins, Neil (2019) Where is the middle class? Inequality, gender and the shape of the upper tail from 60 million English death and probate records, 1892-2016. Working Paper (30). International Inequalities Institute, 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)
Official URL: http://www.lse.ac.uk/International-Inequalities
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: 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: 04 Oct 2019 16:03
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2020 23:07
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/101869

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