July 24, 2019

Cluster-Seminar Public Finances and Living Conditions

Wealth inequality in Germany, 1895-2017

Date

July 24, 2019
12:30 - 13:30

Location

Joan Robinson Room
DIW Berlin
Room 3.3.002a
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin

Speaker

Charlotte Bartels
(together with Thilo Albers (HU Berlin) und Moritz Schularick (Uni Bonn))
This paper provides the first long-run wealth inequality series for Germany. We combine wealth tax data, survey data, national accounts' household balance sheets, and lists of large wealth holders to study the accumulation and distribution of wealth in Germany from 1895 to 2017. We find that wealth concentration in Germany was extremely high in the industrialization period, when the top 1% captured more than half of total net wealth. After World War II, this share was reduced to about a fourth. While wealth inequality has increased since the 1990s when financial assets greatly expanded, the rise of real estate prices since 2010 has enriched the middle class, thereby moderating wealth inequality in Germany in recent years.