Who Rules America ?
the 1 percent held 48 percent of global wealth. But that doesn’t mean
the other 52 percent was for the rest of us; most of it was controlled
by the 20 wealthiest percent, leaving just 5.5 percent of global wealth
for 80 percent of the world.
It used to be that the total wealth of the world’s billionaires and
of the bottom half of the globe increased at roughly the same rate. That
changed in 2010. Total wealth for the poorest 50 percent has actually
decreased from what it was in 2009, while wealth at the top has doubled
(in nominal terms). Just 80 billionaires now control the same wealth as
3.5 billion people.
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few
hands. As of 2017, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned
35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial,
professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%, which means that
just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the
wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of
financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the
top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.1%. Table 2 and
Figure 1 present further details, drawn from the careful work of
economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2012).
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