Most available estimates of U.S. wealth and income concentration indicate that the top shares are high and have been rising in recent decades, but there is some disagreement about specific levels and trends. Household surveys are the traditional data source used to measure the top shares, but recent studies using administrative tax records suggest that these survey-based top share estimates may not be capturing all of the increasing concentration. In this paper, we reconcile the divergent top share estimates, showing how the choices of data sets and methodological decisions affect levels and trends. Relative to the new and most widely cited top share estimates based on administrative tax data alone, our preferred estimates for both wealth and income concentration are lower and have been rising less rapidly in recent years.


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pp. 261-331
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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