Missing the wealthy in the HFCS: micro problems with macro implications

Sofie Waltl, Robin Chakraborty

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Wealth aggregates implied by the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS) usually yield much lower amounts than macroeconomic statistics reported in the National Accounts. An important source of this gap may be the under-representation of the wealthiest households in the HFCS. This article therefore combines a semi-parametric Pareto model estimated from top survey data and observations from rich lists with a non-parametric stratification approach to quantify the impact of the missing wealthy households on component-specific micro-macro gaps. We find that unadjusted micro data substantially underestimates wealth inequality. The largest effects are documented for equity. For other components, the missing wealthy explain less than ten percentage points of the micro-macro gap. We find that differences in oversampling strategies limit the cross-country comparability of unadjusted survey-implied wealth distributions and that our top tail adjustment leads to measures that are internationally better comparable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169 - 203
JournalJournal of Economic Inequality
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502018 Macroeconomics
  • 101018 Statistics

Cite this