The one percent: top incomes and wealth in sociological research

Lisa A. Keister, Hang Young Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The one percent, those at the top of the income and wealth distributions, are fundamental to understanding social and economic inequality and mobility, but sociologists rarely focus research attention on this group. This article presents updated evidence showing that both income and wealth are very highly concentrated in the United States but that the concentration of wealth, particularly financial wealth, is extremely high. We focus on the one percent of wealth owners and identify patterns in asset ownership, liabilities, and demographic traits that are relevant to sociological research. Findings show, for example, that those in the one percent have unique asset and debt portfolios that, to some extent, insulated them from the ill effects of the recent recession; however, patterns reported also highlight inheritance and suggest that mobility into the one percent is possible. The article concludes with suggestions for future research.
LanguageEnglish
Pages13-24
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Currents
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

social research
assets
income
research focus
recession
sociologist
liability
indebtedness
evidence
economics
Group

Keywords

  • inequality
  • poverty and mobility
  • race
  • gender
  • class
  • wealth

Cite this

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The one percent : top incomes and wealth in sociological research. / Keister, Lisa A.; Lee, Hang Young.

In: Social Currents, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2014, p. 13-24.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AB - The one percent, those at the top of the income and wealth distributions, are fundamental to understanding social and economic inequality and mobility, but sociologists rarely focus research attention on this group. This article presents updated evidence showing that both income and wealth are very highly concentrated in the United States but that the concentration of wealth, particularly financial wealth, is extremely high. We focus on the one percent of wealth owners and identify patterns in asset ownership, liabilities, and demographic traits that are relevant to sociological research. Findings show, for example, that those in the one percent have unique asset and debt portfolios that, to some extent, insulated them from the ill effects of the recent recession; however, patterns reported also highlight inheritance and suggest that mobility into the one percent is possible. The article concludes with suggestions for future research.

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