Monday, December 11, 2006

The rich were not always among us 

Loyal reader jw (still sleeping in his Buckeye jacket) sends along an article titled "It's true: The rich do own everything." Just that the rich number 37 million. While a quarter of those are American and another twenty percent are Japanese, some of them are from China, it appears:
China is a rising star and accounts for 8.8 per cent of world household wealth. At the same time, the distribution of wealth within China is growing more unequal.
Of course: At one point China probably had all but the royal court living at roughly the same level -- subsistence. As growth took off there, some will grow faster than others, increasing inequality. I think this will be something we see through the rest of my lifetime: As more countries industrialize and connect to the global economy, measures of inequality will rise within each country that does so. Equality at subsistence levels doesn't strike me as a laudable policy goal.

One noticeable thing in the study is the relatively small share of US financial wealth held in savings accounts. We prefer equities.

The study is from WIDER, part of a research university set up by the UN in Finland. The study can be viewed.