Wealth Inequality: A Hybrid Approach toward Multidimensional Distributional National Accounts in Europe

Sofie R. Waltl
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research & Vienna University of Economics and Business


This article proposes a practically feasible framework for compiling Multidimensional Distributional National Accounts (MDINA) serving two functions: a comprehensive measure of (components of) net worth and their distribution, and a link to macroeconomic statistics. I break down twelve components of marketable wealth by wealth and income groups, and three functions of wealth for Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Spain. MDINA complemented by summary indicators reveal large heterogeneity in the degree of inequality, and shed light on differences in the structure of wealth portfolios across and within countries. I combine data collected in the largely harmonized HFCS survey and adjust for remaining differences in survey modes regarding the treatment of the top tail using (Generalized) Pareto models estimated from rich lists or top wealth shares derived from tax data and leaked information on wealth held in offshore tax havens. Measured inequality increases strongest in countries where surveys refrain from appropriate top-tail corrections.

JEL.: D31, E01

Keywords: Multidimensional Distributional National Accounts; Wealth decomposition; Micro-macro linkage; Survey Data; HFCS


Forthcoming in: Review of Income and Wealth, https://10.1111/roiw.12519

Presentations: [DIW Berlin, July 2018] [35th General Conference of the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW), Copenhagen, August 2018] [SEMILUX seminar at the University of Luxembourg, October 2018] [European Central Bank, November 2018] [Wealth Inequality and Mobility Workshop, U of Luxembourg, December 2018] [Austrian Economic Association (NOeG) Winter Workshop, Vienna, December 2018][University of Antwerp, Feburary 2019][Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) Conference on Economic Measurement, King’s College, London, May 2019]

Media: Vermögen: Wem gehört Österreich? (derStandard Ökonomieblog, April 2019)

This paper was previously circulated under the title: “Multidimensional Wealth Inequality: A Hybrid Approach toward Distributional National Accounts in Europe”