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There is increasing recognition that GDP measures or GDP per capita are insufficient when it comes to understanding the true economic well-being of households. That has resulted in research becoming increasingly focused on household income with a higher emphasis on income inequality. A recent OECD paper analysed the distribution of household wealth across 28 countries and it found that wealth inequality is twice the level of income inequality on average.
One of its key findings was that the wealthiest 10 percent of households hold 52 percent of total household wealth on average. By contrast, the 60 percent least wealthy households only own about 12 percent. The situation is by far the worst in the United States where the richest 10 percent of households own 79 percent of the wealth. The bottom 60 percent of American households only own 2.4 percent of household wealth.
The situation is the same in Europe where the inequality gap is particularly wide in some countries. In the Netherlands, 68 percent of wealth is owned by the top 10 percent of households while in Denmark, the figure is 64 percent. The OECD found that in both countries, the share of wealth held by the bottom 60 percent of households is negative, meaning that on average, they have liabilities exceeding the value of their assets.
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