03. August 2022

The Wealth of Germans The Wealth of Germans

Today, one percent of German households own around 27 percent of the total assets of all Germans. But what was it like in the past? Moritz Schularick, together with Thilo Albers and Charlotte Bartels, writes about the history of wealth distribution in Germany in the FAZ column "Der Volkswirt.

The Wealth of Germans
The Wealth of Germans © Colourbox.de
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The Discussion Paper "Wealth and its Distribution in Germany, 1895-2018" by Thilo N. H. Albers, Charlotte Bartels, and Moritz Schularick:

The researchers comprehensively investigate wealth and its distribution in Germany since the 19th century. To this end, they analyze tax and archival data, household surveys, historical household surveys, historical national accounts and asset lists.

The results show that the top 1% wealth share has fallen by half, from close to 50% in 1895 to 27% today. Nearly all of this decline was the result of changes that occurred between 1914 and 1952. The interwar period and the wealth taxation in the aftermath of World War II stand out as the great equalizers in 20th century German history. After unification in 1990, two trends have left their mark on the German wealth distribution. Households at the top made substantial capital gains from rising business wealth while the middle-class had large capital gains in the housing market. The wealth share of the bottom 50% halved since 1990.

Thilo N. H. Albers, Charlotte Bartels, Moritz Schularick: Wealth and its Distribution in Germany, 1895-2018

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