Bottom 50% of Americans Have 1% of Wealth

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Whether it is the top 1% or the top 0.1%, the rich hold a huge portion of all the wealth in America and around the world. The pattern has not changed much since records of the data were first kept. They speak to both how much of the money is concentrated at the high end of the pyramid and how poverty persists so extensively.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) offered another look at the obvious:

In 2013, families in the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution held 76 percent of all family wealth, families in the 51st to the 90th percentiles held 23 percent, and those in the bottom half of the distribution held 1 percent. Average wealth was about $4 million for families in the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution, $316,000 for families in the 51st to 90th percentiles, and $36,000 for families in the 26th to 50th percentiles. On average, families at or below the 25th percentile were $13,000 in debt.

There are significant differences in wealth among different age and education groups. In 2013, the median family wealth of families headed by someone who was age 65 or older—$211,000—was more than 3½ times the median wealth of families headed by someone between the ages of 35 and 49. Similarly, median wealth of families headed by someone with a college degree—$202,000—was almost four times the median wealth of families headed by someone with a high school diploma.

It is good to be old and have an Ivy League education. The conclusions are so well known as to be boring:

For this analysis, CBO examined the distribution of wealth chiefly using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, supplemented with data from the Forbes 400 list, where necessary. That choice of data allowed CBO to examine trends in wealth for all families. The supplemented SCF (Survey of Consumer Finances) covers the entire wealth distribution. The appendix presents a longer discussion of the data and methods used for this analysis. A list of definitions appears at the end of the publication.