Saturday, March 12, 2011

Distribution of wealth in the US

How many people hold half of the wealth in the US?

This is a little difficult to extract from a simple Google search. But I found out these interesting things:

  • From this, I calculate that half of the total wealth in the US is held by approximately the top 5% of the people in 2007, and approximately the top 6% in 1992.

  • Other interesting findings: The Gini Coefficient, which is a measure of the statistical dispersion of the population distribution of a system: a value of 0 means a completely equal distribution; a value of 1 means the maximally unequal distribution. The US (according to this Wikipedia article) has a Gini of 46.8 in 2009 (up from 36.8 in 1968). Some have estimated the Gini coefficient in the US to be as high as 0.82.

  • Another fine article, with more charts and graphs, can be found here. I need to study this detailed article!
It is worth repeating:

Half of the wealth in the United States is held by the richest 5% of the people.

In other words,
15.6 million people have half the wealth of the US, and
292.6 million people hold the other half of the wealth.

And, as I expected, the relative wealth of the richest people in the US is increasing.

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