Puttin’ on the Ritz – Sources for Data on Wealth

In the U.S. there is an increasing concentration of assets in the hands of the wealthy. This trend has given rise to phrases such as the “1%” and the “99%”.  Here are some data sources to help us answer such questions as “Who are the richest people?”, “How many of them are there?”, “How rich are they?”, and “How do they spend their money?”

Richest Lists

Forbes has a number of “richest people” lists in its magazine including Forbes World’s Billionaires and Forbes 400 The Richest People in America. In addition to names, photos, and net worth, the lists have information on residence, age, and source of income.  Using Forbes’ data, Wikipedia has compiled a convenient list of the Top 10 Richest People in the world by year from 2000 on.

Rich Demographics

Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management’s 2012 World Wealth Report is a freely available annual survey of “High Net Worth Individuals” (HNWI) from 70 countries. HNWI are defined as those with financial assets, excluding residence, of more than 1 million US dollars. Capgemini also discusses “Ultra HNWIs” individuals with financial assets of more than 30 million dollars. The report includes statistics on type of financial assets and a ranking of high wealth individuals by geographic area and country.

Two additional standard sources of information about the rich are the Luxury Institute and the Ipsos Mendelsohn Group. Ipsos Mendelsohn does an annual U.S. study of 14,000 adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual income. Although the Penn Libraries do not have access to their surveys of the affluent, you can often find data from these surveys cited in articles within the Business Source Complete or ABI/Inform databases. Try searching for luxury institute or mendelsohn affluent survey and search within the full-text.

The U.S. IRS Tax Stats Personal Wealth Statistics is published every three years. The excerpt from the table below reports 2007 data in January 2012.

Table 1 – Personal Wealth 2007:  Top Wealth Holders with Gross Assets of $2.0 Million or More, Type of Property by Size of Net Worth     IRS Personal Wealth Statistics 2012a

Tables from this site give detailed data on top U.S. wealth holders with various breakdowns (size of net worth, gender, age, state of residence). The actual table on the site includes many additional columns of data concerning details of assets owned (e.g. stocks, bonds, and additional residences).

Marketing to the Rich

Marketing research publications are the obvious choice to answer questions about affluent marketing. Two good sources of information are:

Search for the word AFFLUENT to retrieve the report, The Affluent Consumer Market in the U.S. (Packaged Facts, 6th Edition, December, 2011). This 180 page report discusses the financial, social and political profile of the affluent, how they spend and manage money, and gives details on their expenditures for specific products.

This database has several specific reports on the affluent including:

Affluent Investing (UK 2012); Luxury Good Retailing (International 2011), Wealth Management (US 2011) and Canada Mass Affluents (2011). 

In our next post, we will describe data sources for the high salaried, as well as income distribution by country.

3 thoughts on “Puttin’ on the Ritz – Sources for Data on Wealth

  1. Pingback: I Dream of Gini – Measuring Income Distributions | Datapoints

  2. Pingback: Puttin’ on the Ritz – Sources for Data on Wealth « Business Research Plus

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