World Inequality Database

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World Inequality Database (WID), previously The World Wealth and Income Database, also known as, is an extensive, open and accessible database "on the historical evolution of the world distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries".[1]

World Inequality Lab[edit]

The World Inequality Lab aims to promote research on global inequality dynamics. Its missions are the intension of the World Inequality Database, the production of analysis on global inequality dynamics, and the dissemination in the public debate.

The Lab works in close coordination with a large international network of researchers (over one hundred researchers covering nearly seventy countries) contributing to the database, in a collaborative effort to extend the existing database, which provides data on both distribution of income and wealth, "as well as the distribution of different forms of capital assets, in the analyzed countries".[2]

By 2015, the WID provided data series on the distribution of income and wealth in 33 countries mainly from the Americas and Europe. At that time there the intention was to "include data series for an additional forty countries." The first WID in 2013, which was placed in an open source repository in September 2013, was compiled by Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman.[2][3]

From 2016 to 2017, through a 2015 Centers for Equitable Growth (CEG), Piketty, Saez, and Zucman studied Distributional National Accounts (DINA) for the United States. "DINA are defined as distributional statistics of pre-tax and post-tax income and wealth consistent with National Income and Product Accounts, and the Flow of Funds of the United States."[2][4][5][6][7]

World Inequality Report[edit]

World Inequality Report is a report by the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics that provides estimates of global income and wealth inequality based on the most recent findings compiled by the World Inequality Database (WID). WID, also referred to as, is an open source database, that is part of an international collaborative effort of over a hundred researchers in five continents. The World Inequality Report includes discussions on potential future academic research as well as content useful for public debates and policy related to economic inequality. The first report, entitled World Inequality Report 2018, which was released on December 14, 2017, at the Paris School of Economics during the first Conference, was compiled by Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman based on WID data.[8] The 300-page report cautions that since 1980, around the globe, there has been an increase in the gap between rich and poor. In Europe, the increase in inequality increased more moderately while in North America and Asia, the increase was rapid. In the Middle East, Africa, and Brazil, income inequality did not increase but remained at very high levels.

The 2022 World Inequality Report was published on Dec. 7th 2021.[9] It was coordinated by economic and inequality experts Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman over four years.

World Inequality Report, 2022[edit]

World Inequality Report (WIR) 2022 has been published on 7 December 2021. In WIR – 2022, we can see different types of financial data regarding national (and global) income and wealth distribution.[10]

World Inequality Report, 2018[edit]

In 2018 Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman compiled the first report, the "World Inequality Report 2018"[11] which was released on December 14, 2017, at the Paris School of Economics during the first Conference.

The five part 300-page report discusses "the project and the measurement of economic inequality in Part I, trends in global income inequality in Part II, public versus private capital dynamics in Part III, trends in global wealth inequality in Part IV, "Tackling Economic Inequality"[11]: 248–286  Methodological "details on how estimations were constructed are available at the report's website".[12] According to the New York Times, "Policy, it turns out, matters. More aggressive redistribution through taxes and transfers has spared Europe from the acute disparities that Americans have grown used to. Unequal access to education is helping reproduce inequality in the United States down the generations."[13][11]: 10, 16  The Times article also noted that, "China's strategy based on low-skill manufacturing for export, and underpinned by aggressive investment in infrastructure, has proven more effective at raising living standards for the bottom half of the population than India's more inward-looking strategy, which has limited the benefits of globalization to the well-educated elite."[13] Tetlow of the Financial Times described inequality as the "defining characteristic of the age" as The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.[14] The India Times article drew attention to the way in which "[d]eregulation and opening-up reforms in India since 1980s have led to substantial increase in inequality so much that top 0.1% of earners has continued to capture more growth than all those in the bottom 50% combined."[15] The WIR reported that, "Income inequality in India has reached historically high levels. In 2014, the share of national income accruing to India's top 1% of earners was 22%, while the share of the top 10% was around 56%."[11]: 123 

Quartz cited the report, "[S]ince 1980 the top 0.1% have captured as much income growth as the entire bottom half of world's (adult) population. And for the group of people in between the bottom 50% and top 1%—mostly the lower- and middle-income groups in North America and Europe—income growth has been either sluggish or flat."[16] The WIR 2018 shows that, "The gap between rich and poor has increased in nearly every region in the world over the past few decades."[16] Since "1980, income inequality has increased rapidly in North America and Asia, increased more moderately in Europe, and stabilized at very high levels in the Middle East, Africa, and Brazil."[16]


Pioneers of income inequality studies include Simon Kuznets' 1953 study,[17] and A. B. Atkinson and Alan Harrison's 1978 study. In 1953 Kuznet co-edited Shares of Upper Income Groups in Savings.[18][17] Kuznet, an American economist, statistician, demographer, economic historian, and winner of the 1971 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences,[19]: 246  identified the historical series of economic movements such as "Kuznets swing", in the economy cycles.[20][21]

Media coverage[edit]

Within days of its December 14, 2017, publication online, the report was featured in articles in the New York Times,[13] The Guardian,[22] Quartz,[16] Financial Times,[14] the India Times,[15] and Associated Press via ABC News.[23]

In the interview with Quartz, Piketty warned of the impediments to getting "a comprehensive picture of wealth", such as tax havens. Piketty observed that "there are financial and political forces that have a vested interest in keeping this information secret," noting the "paradox of today's globalized economy" where "we are supposed to be in the era of big data and transparency, and we see that we still don't have access to all the data sources we would need."[16]

Thomas Piketty[edit]

In Capital is Back,[24] University of California at Berkeley's[25] French economist Gabriel Zucman and Thomas Piketty investigate the evolution of aggregate wealth-to-income ratios in the top eight developed economies, reaching back as far as 1700 in the case of the U.S., U.K., Germany, and France, and find that wealth-income ratios have risen from about "200-300% in 1970 to 400-600% in 2010",[26][24] levels unknown since the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the change can be explained by the long-run recovery of asset prices, the slowdown of productivity, and population growth.[24] According to The New York Times Book Review, Zucman is mostly known for his research on tax havens, popularized in his book The Hidden Wealth of Nations.[27][28][29][30]


  1. ^ "About". World Wealth and Income Database (WID). nd. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Izmirlioglu, Ahmet (2014–2015). "The World Wealth and Income Database (WID)". Journal of World-Historical Information. Reviews of Datasets. 2–3 (2). doi:10.5195/jwhi.2015.33. ISSN 2169-0812.
  3. ^ Alvaredo, Facundo; Atkinson, Anthony B.; Piketty, Thomas; Saez, Emmanuel; Zucman, Gabriel, eds. (September 1, 2013), The World Wealth and Income Database (WID)
  4. ^ Piketty, Thomas; Saez, Emmanuel; Zucman, Gabriel (June 2015), Summary: CEG Grant: US Distributional Accounts (PDF)
  5. ^ Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  6. ^ Piketty, Thomas, and Emmanuel Saez. 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998," Quarterly Journal of Economics 118(1), 1-39.
  7. ^ Saez, Emmanuel and Gabriel Zucman. 2014."Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data," NBER working paper 20625.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Juliana; Kiersz, Andy (December 7, 2021). "A huge study of 20 years of global wealth demolishes the myth of 'trickle-down' and shows the rich are taking most of the gains for themselves". Business Insider. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  9. ^ 2022 World Inequality Report
  10. ^ TARGET, IAS (18 December 2021). "World Inequality Report - 2022". Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d Alvaredo, Facundo; Chancel, Lucas; Piketty, Thomas; Saez, Emmanuel; Zucman, Gabriel, eds. (December 14, 2017). World Inequality Report (2018) (PDF) (Report). p. 300. Retrieved December 14, 2017. "This report emphasizes recent research articles written by: Facundo Alvaredo Lydia Assouad Anthony B. Atkinson Charlotte Bartels Thomas Blanchet Lucas Chancel Luis Estévez-Bauluz Juliette Fournier Bertrand Garbinti Jonathan Goupille-Lebret Clara Martinez-Toledano Salvatore Morelli Marc Morgan Delphine Nougayrède Filip Novokmet Thomas Piketty Emmanuel Saez Li Yang Gabriel Zucman"
  12. ^ [ Dedicated website for World Inequality Report 2018]
  13. ^ a b c Porter, Eduardo; Russell, Karl (December 14, 2017). "It's an Unequal World. It Doesn't Have to Be". New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2017. Examining the "World Inequality Report" — published Thursday by the creators of the World Wealth and Income Database, who include the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez — it is tempting to see the rising concentration of incomes as some sort of unstoppable force of nature, an economic inevitability driven by globalization and technology. The report finds that the richest 1 percent of humanity reaped 27 percent of the world's income between 1980 and 2016. The bottom 50 percent, by contrast, got only 12 percent.
  14. ^ a b Tetlow, Gemma (December 13, 2017). "Is the world becoming more unequal?". Financial Times. London, UK. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  15. ^ a b ET Bureau (December 14, 2017). "Indian economic inequality widened since 1980: Report". India Times. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e Nelson, Eshe (December 14, 2017). "Thomas Piketty says the US is setting a bad example on inequality for the world". Quartz. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Kuznets, Simon (1953). Kuznets, Simon; Jenks, Elizabeth (eds.). Shares of Upper Income Groups in Savings (PDF). Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings. National Bureau of Economic Research (1953). ISBN 0-87014-054-X. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Lundberg, Erik (1971). "Simon Kuznets' Contribution to Economics". The Swedish Journal of Economics. 73 (4): 444–461. doi:10.2307/3439225. JSTOR 3439225.
  19. ^ "Moses Abramovitz (1912-1999) and Simon Kuznets (1901–1985)". The Journal of Economic History. 46 (1). March 1986.
  20. ^ Abramovitz, Moses (April 1961). "The nature and significance of Kuznets cycles". Economic Development and Cultural Change. 6 (3): 225–248. doi:10.1086/449905. S2CID 154354441.
  21. ^ Abramovitz, Moses (November 1968). "The passing of the Kuznets cycle". Economica. New Series. 35 (140): 349–367. doi:10.2307/2552345. JSTOR 2552345.
  22. ^ Neate, Rupert (December 14, 2017). "World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half". Retrieved December 16, 2017. Inequality report also shows UK's 50,000 richest people have seen their share of the country's wealth double since 1984
  23. ^ Kurtenbach, Elaine; Rugaber, Christopher (December 15, 2017). "Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change". ABC News via AP. Tokyo. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c Piketty, Thomas; Zucman, Gabriel (2014). "Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries 1700-2010" (PDF). Quarterly Journal of Economics. 129 (3): 1255–1310. doi:10.1093/qje/qju018.PDF
  25. ^ "Curriculum vitae of Gabriel Zucman" (PDF). Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  26. ^ Piketty, Thomas; Zucman, Gabriel (August 2013). "DP9588 Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries, 1700-2010". Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Discussion papers.
  27. ^ Sunstein, Cass R. (January 14, 2016). "Parking the Big Money". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  28. ^ Houlder, Vanessa (October 2, 2015). "The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens', by Gabriel Zucman". Financial Times.
  29. ^ Drucker, Jesse (September 21, 2015). "If You See a Little Piketty in This Tax-Haven Book, That's Fine". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  30. ^ Heuser, Uwe Jean (July 3, 2014). "Was heißt hier gerecht?". Die Zeit.

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