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The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows

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super richThe 1 percent is literally rich beyond measure, depriving nations of billions in tax revenue and obscuring shifts in global inequality.

Research conducted separately by European Central Bank economist Philip Vermeulen and London School of Economics’ Gabriel Zucman show the wealth of the super-affluent -- hidden by tax shelters and nonresponse to questionnaires -- is undercounted. Correcting for similar lapses in income data almost erases progress made from 1988 to 2008 in narrowing the gap between the world’s rich and poor, World Bank research found.

“We always suspected there was some low-balling of the top 1 percent,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-prize winning economist and author of “The Price of Inequality. ‘‘There’s a growing sense that our system is rigged and unfair.’’

Failure to get a better handle on the actual amount of wealth and income means economists and policy makers don’t have a proper understanding of the degree of disparity, which represents a hurdle in addressing it. For instance, knowing that earnings and assets are more concentrated could spur support for changing the tax structure, Zucman said.

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