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The Top Tail of the Wealth Distribution in Germany, France, Spain, and Greece

Discussion Papers 1502, 35 S.

Stefan Bach, Andreas Thiemann, Aline Zucco


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We analyze the top tail of the wealth distribution in Germany, France, Spain, and Greece based on the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS). Since top wealth is likely to be underrepresented in household surveys we integrate the big fortunes from rich lists, estimate a Pareto distribution, and impute the missing rich. Instead of the Forbes list we mainly rely on national rich lists since they represent a broader base for the big fortunes. As a result, the top percentile share of household wealth in Germany jumps up from 24 percent in the HFCS alone to 33 percent after top wealth imputation. For France and Spain we find only a small effect of the imputation since rich households are better captured in the survey. The results for Greece are ambiguous since the data do not show clear concentration patterns.

Stefan Bach

Research Associate in the Public Economics Department

JEL-Classification: D31;C46;C81
Keywords: Wealth distribution, missing rich, Pareto distribution
Frei zugängliche Version: (econstor)