OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Papers:

Testing the evidence, how good are public sector responsiveness measures and how to improve them? (with OECD Public Governance Directorate)

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)


Inequalities in household wealth across OECD countries

Evidence from the OECD Wealth Distribution Database

This paper describes how household wealth is distributed in 28 OECD countries, based on evidence from the second wave of the OECD Wealth Distribution Database. A number of general patterns emerge from these data. First, wealth concentration is twice the level of income inequality: across the 28 OECD countries covered, the wealthiest 10% of households hold, on average, 52% of total household wealth, while the 60% least wealthy households own little over 12%. Second, up to a quarter of all households report negative net worth (i.e. liabilities exceeding the value of their assets) in a number of countries. In addition, some countries feature large shares of households with high levels of debt relative to both their incomes and the assets that they hold; this potentially exposes such households to significant risks in the event of changes in asset prices or falls of their income. Third, more than one in three people are economically vulnerable, as they lack liquid financial assets to maintain a poverty-level living standard for at least three months. Fourth, one in three households has received some gift or bequest in their life, with this share being considerably larger among high income and high wealth households. The paper also describes changes in wealth distribution since the Great Recession among the sub-set of countries for which repeated observations are available in the OECD Wealth Distribution Database. Finally, the paper discusses a number of methodological challenges, notably on how to better account for the top end of the wealth distribution.


Keywords: wealth inequality, OECD, household wealth, database
JEL: C81: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs / Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access; D12: Microeconomics / Household Behavior and Family Economics / Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis; I32: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Measurement and Analysis of Poverty; D31: Microeconomics / Distribution / Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions; D63: Microeconomics / Welfare Economics / Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
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