Wealth inequality is alive and well in the U.S.—and it’s only getting worse.
According to a new working paper on the topic by University of California at Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman, wealth is distributed even more unevenly than that of income.
Zucman’s calculations show that the top 0.1% of the U.S. population possesses close to 20% of the wealth in the country—more than the bottom 80% of the population combined. When expanded to the top 10%, the share of the pie continues to grow: they own more than 70% of wealth in the country, or twice that owned by the bottom 90%.
But it’s not just about how much wealth the upper echelons possess. Their growing share of American wealth since the early 1980s has coincided with a drop in the share of wealth by the rest of the country.
For example, the 400 richest people in the U.S., or the top 0.00025%, have tripled their share of wealth in that time. Meanwhile, the 150 million Americans in the bottom 60% have seen a decline from a 5.7% share in 1987 to a 2.1% share in 2014.
As The Washington Post notes, “the wealthy are becoming wealthier…and there’s good reason to think it’s happening at the expense of everyone else.”