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Working Paper

Accounting for Wealth Concentration in the United States

We assess the empirical relevance of different macroeconomic modeling approaches to wealth concentration, using the joint distribution of earnings, capital income and net worth in combination with an OLG model of household heterogeneity. We find large earnings disparities to be the primary source of US wealth concentration. This reflects the fact that labor income, from salaries but also from entrepreneurship, is a major income source for top income and wealth groups in the data. Bequests and differences in rates of return on capital together explain about half the holdings of the wealthiest of households, but much less for the rest.

Suggested Citation

Kaymak, Barış, David Leung, and Markus Poschke. 2022. “Accounting for Wealth Concentration in the United States.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 22-28.