Wealth Concentration

This research project is funded by the University of Zurich Research Priority Program «Equality of Opportunity». The data collection is organized in close collaboration with the OBELIS Swiss Elites database and we are associated to the SNSF Sinergia project on local elites.

Our project explores the long-term dynamics of wealth concentration at the higher end of the social strata in various Swiss settings. Using historical tax registers as well as more recent rankings of wealthy individuals/families, we aim to analyze the changing and interconnected roles of inheritance, family and kinship networks, and entrepreneurship in the dynamics of wealth accumulation and concentration. Starting with a detailed study of the Zurich 0.1% wealthiest taxpayers during the first half of the 20th century, this project will also address issues linked to tax competition within Switzerland and the country’s role as a platform for wealthy foreign individuals. The project aims to both gather data on wealth concentration in a long-term perspective and develop a quantitative/qualitative assessment of this data.

As there has been yet very little research on high incomes/wealth in Switzerland using historical methods, we expect to contribute to a better understanding of the changing structure of the higher social echelons of one of the world’s wealthiest industrialized societies.

Project Leader: Matthieu Leimgruber
Collaborator: Geoffroy Legentilhomme