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Wealth ownership in the United States has always concentrated in the hands of a small minority of the population. Because of scarce data on wealth ownership, the nature of wealth ownership distribution and knowledge about wealth inequality has received little attention from social scientists. Keister synthesizes theory and data from various sources to present a picture of househould wealth distribution from 1962 to 1995. Utilizing existing survey data and a unique simulation model, she isolates and examines processes that create this distribution, paying particular attention to the wealth ownership and accumulation of top wealth holders, those who control the bulk of household wealth. She identifies trends in wealth mobility that are not possible to estimate with traditional research methods. The results underscore the importance of wealth as an indicator of well-being, identify important causes of wealth inequality, and propose methods of lessening the recent increase in the concentration of wealth.

‘Wealth in America will fill an important gap in the recent literature on inequality in America. Given the growing interest of academic economists, as well as journalists in the issue of rising inequality in America, this book is very timely and will command a wide interest in the subject. Wealth in America is extremely well written and accessible to a wide audience – over and above academic economists and sociologists.’ Edward Wolff, New York University

‘Keister presents a longitudinal study of inequality of wealth in the US, which is remarkable because there are no published data on changes in wealth inequality. She does so by creating a simulated model of changes in the distribution of wealth derived from cross-sectional and short-range panel studies. Everyone knows or suspects that there is a great deal of inequality in this country, but Keister’s data surprisingly proves that it is greater than we have suspected.’ Peter M. Blau, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

‘Lisa Keister has produced a profoundly interesting, soundly researched, and significant book on household wealth accumulation and distribution in America. Her findings will interest the general, educated public as well as instructors and students of the American economy and society.’ Thomas Shapiro, Northeastern University

‘… it is Lisa Keister’s merit to have tackled an issue, the distribution of wealth among people, which has received far less attention than it deserves. Her book is informative and raises a number of important policy questions …’. Journal of Economics (Zeitschrift für Nationalokonomie)

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