Who Are the Global Top 1%?

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World Development, ISSN: 0305-750X, Vol: 95, Page: 111-126

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Sudhir Anand; Paul Segal
Elsevier BV
Social Sciences; Economics, Econometrics and Finance
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This paper presents the first in-depth analysis of the changing composition of the global income rich and the rising representation of developing countries at the top of the global distribution. We construct global distributions of income during 1988–2012 based on both household surveys and the new top incomes data derived from tax records, which better capture the rich who are typically excluded from household surveys. We find that the representation of developing countries in the global top 1% declined until about 2002, but that since 2005 it has risen significantly. This coincides with a decline in global inequality since 2005, according to a range of measures. We compare our estimates of the country-composition and income levels of the global rich with a number of other sources—including Credit Suisse’s estimates of global wealth, the Forbes World Billionaires List, attendees of the World Economic Forum, and estimates of top executives’ salaries. To varying degrees, all show a rise in the representation of the developing world in the ranks of the global elite.