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Vol. 79, No. 4
Posted 1997-07-01

The Rich and the Poor: Demographics of the U.S. Wealth Distribution

by John C. Weicher

In this article, the author extends his 1995 and 1996 reports on the distribution of U.S. wealth to present a detailed examination of the demographics of the richest and poorest households. He concludes that concern over the concentration of wealth should be tempered by the apparent fact that “the rich” are a changing group, even over short periods of time. Among his other interesting findings is the observation that most of our nation’s rich are entrepreneurs in the American tradition. Less than 8 percent of the net worth of households in the richest 1 percent comes from inheritance, and more than half of the richest households did not inherit anything.

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