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The 1% May Be Even Richer Than You Think, Research Shows — Wealth Hidden by Tax Shelters and Non-response to Questionnaires

Percentage of wealth held by top 1%


By Jeanna Smialek
The 1 percent is literally rich beyond measure, depriving nations of billions in tax revenue and obscuring shifts in global inequality.

Research conducted separately by European Central Bank economist Philip Vermeulen and London School of Economics’ Gabriel Zucman show the wealth of the super-affluent -- hidden by tax shelters and nonresponse to questionnaires -- is undercounted. Correcting for similar lapses in income data almost erases progress made from 1988 to 2008 in narrowing the gap between the world’s rich and poor, World Bank research found.

“We always suspected there was some low-balling of the top 1 percent,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-prize winning economist and author of “The Price of Inequality. “There’s a growing sense that our system is rigged and unfair.”

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