Skip to Content


30 Years of economics for development
Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective: Edited by James B. Davies
Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective: Edited by James B. Davies

This volume is a tour de force—an ambitious and successful effort to establish the starting point for a generation of new analyses of the economics of wealth accumulation and distribution. The studies included are sophisticated in data use and methods, and both careful and creative in their applications and conclusions. The introduction and concluding chapters provide thoughtful comparative perspective across countries and regions and good summary headliners (e.g. recent increases in wealth inequality reflect mostly self-made fortunes at the top). For economists, for students of development, for scholars of inequality in all its forms, this volume is obligatory—a treasure lode of ideas, methods, and new analysis. —Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development, Washington DC

By highlighting a largely neglected aspect of the world’s profound and deepening levels of inequality, this comprehensive stocktake of the evidence on the distribution of assets is a valuable complement to the more established discussion on the distribution of income. —Duncan Green, Head of Research, Oxfam GB, and author of From Poverty to Power (2008)

Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective (paperback)

There is great media fascination in the activities and lifestyles of the super-rich. But personal wealth is also important for those of more modest means as a store of potential consumption, as a cushion against emergencies, and as collateral for business and investment loans. This book is the first global study of household assets and debts. It documents not only the level, distribution, and trend of wealth holdings in rich nations, but also addresses developing countries like China and India. The situation in Latin America and Africa is given attention along with the experiences of Russia and other transition countries. Components of household wealth like financial assets, land, and property are examined, as well as the gender division. Worldwide, it is estimated that the richest 2% own more than half of total global wealth, and that this elite group resides almost exclusively in North America, Western Europe, and rich Asia-Pacific countries.
Oxford University Press
UNU-WIDER Studies in Development Economics
Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective (paperback)
Edited by James B. Davies
Publication date:
October 2008
ISBN 13 Print:
Copyright holder:
Copyright year:
wealth, income, poverty, inequality, assets
D31, E01, E21, O10
Personal Assets from a Global Perspective
paperback book
We know at least something about global 'income' inequality, but almost nothing about global 'wealth' inequality. At least until this pioneering study by UNU-WIDER. It will be a standard reference for years to come and a milestone in our understanding of the world economy. —Angus Deaton, Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Economics, Princeton University
Who owns the world? Did wealth inequality rise in rich countries after the early 1970s? What happened to wealth inequality in big Asian economies with double-digit growth rates? Do the Russian oligarchs make inequality so much greater there than in other transition economies? Does Latin America really have greater wealth inequality? These and other questions are answered in a wonderful new book Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective. A must read for those interested in who gains from growth. —Jeffrey G. Williamson, Emeritus Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Harvard University and Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Back to Top

^ Back to top

© 1995-2015 United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGODisclaimer | Terms of Use

UNU-WIDER, Katajanokanlaituri 6 B, FI-00160 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358(0)9 6159911 | Fax: +358(0)9 61599333