Wealth inequality: Data and models

Marco Cagetti, Mariacristina De Nardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


In the United States wealth is highly concentrated and very unequally distributed: the richest 1% hold one third of the total wealth in the economy. Understanding the determinants of wealth inequality is a challenge for many economic models. We summarize some key facts about the wealth distribution and what economic models have been able to explain so far.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-313
Number of pages29
JournalMacroeconomic Dynamics
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge financial support from NSF Grants (respectively) SES-0318014 and SES-0317872. We are grateful to Marco Bassetto, Wojciech Kopczuk, Robert Townsend, and an anonymous referee for helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Reserve System, or the NSF. Address correspondence to: Mariacristina De Nardi, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Research Department, 230 South La Salle Street, Chicago, IL 60604, USA; e-mail: [email protected].


  • Inequality
  • Life-cycle models
  • Savings


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