Arbeitspapiere des EVS-Projekts Personelle Einkommensverteilung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
- 30 engl.
The development of aggregate private wealth and its distribution in Germany since 1970
- This investigation of the wealth of private households as a possible indicator for the prosperity of a society indicated a strong increase in wealth for the Federal Republic of Germany since 1970. This applies both to the macro-economic results of the financial accounting of the Deutsche Bundesbank and to the micro-economic results of the Income and Consumption Surveys of the Federal Statistical Office. However, substantial differences become clear in the content expressed by these two different sets of data. While the financial accounting of the Deutsche Bundesbank shows an increase of net assets of around 808 per cent over 27 years (from 1.3 trillion DM in the year 1970 to 12.1 trillion DM in 1997), calculations on the basis of the Income and Consumption Surveys yield a corresponding value of only 280 per cent in a 25-year period, with a substantially lower overall magnitude in later investigations (from 2.2 trillion DM in 1973 to only 8.3 trillion DM in 1998). Investigation of the EVS data pointed out the great importance of property for the wealth situation of private households. However, not every household has property in the form of housing and real estate. In West Germany, ownership rates have increased substantially since 1962. However, since 1993 these rates have stagnated at about 50 per cent. The analysis of the distribution of wealth for West German households yielded a decline in the concentration of wealth in the period from 1973 to 1993, both in terms of the shares of total wealth held by individual quintiles of households, and as expressed by the Gini coefficients. However, this trend did not continue in the years between 1993 and 1998. For the year 1998 it can be determined that the lowest 40 per cent of households in West Germany had practically no wealth, while the highest quintile claimed over 60 per cent of total assets. For East Germany, strong tendencies are established toward adapting to the values in the West German Länder. This concerns first the absolute level of net assets, even though in 1998 these amounted to just 38 per cent of the analogous value in West German households, in terms of the average value per household. Similarly, the ownership rates of housing and real estate also rose dramatically after reunification. The inequality of the distribution of wealth in East Germany was reduced somewhat by this broader basis of real-estate ownership over the course of time, such that the Gini coefficient decreased slightly in the period from 1993 to 1998. However, it is also true for the new Länder in the Federal Republic that the lowest 40 per cent of households have practically no wealth, while the highest quintile of East German households claim over 70 per cent of total assets, even higher than its share in West Germany. Furthermore, the distribution of wealth is remarkably congruous in East and West Germany. Both the distribution of wealth as expressed by the quintile values and the results of the Gini coefficients yield similar results, whereby the trend in both regions is toward convergence. The similarity of these results must be regarded as nothing less than amazing, considering that the two regions followed different economic models for over forty years: the social free-market economy (Soziale Marktwirtschaft) in the Federal Republic of Germany, and the socialist planned economy (Sozialistische Planwirtschaft) in the German Democratic Republic.