DP14020 Hidden Wealth

Author(s): Neil Cummins
Publication Date: September 2019
Date Revised: June 2021
Keyword(s): Big Data, economic history, hidden wealth, Inequality, tax evasion
JEL(s): D31, H26, N00, N33, N34
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14020

Using individual level records of all wealth-at-death in England, 1892-1992, together with new estimates of the wealth-specific rate-of-return on wealth, I estimate a plausible minimum level of the amount of inherited wealth that is hidden. Elites conceal around 20% of their inheritance. Among dynasties, this hidden wealth, independent of declared wealth, predicts appearance in the Offshore Leaks Database of 2013-6, house values in 1999, and Oxbridge attendance, 1990-2016. Accounting for hidden wealth eliminates at least 40% of the observed decline of the top 10% wealth-share over the past century. I find 8,549 dynasties that are hiding £7.7 Billion.