The Economic History Review

The hidden wealth of English dynasties, 1892–2016

Volume 75 Issue 3
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Pages: 667-702Authors: Neil Cummins
Published online: January 6, 2022DOI: 10.1111/ehr.13120

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Using individual-level records of all wealth-at-death in England from 1892 to 1992, together with new estimates of the wealth-specific rate of return on wealth, this study estimates a plausible minimum level of the amount of inherited wealth that is hidden. Elites conceal around 35 per cent of their inheritance. Among dynasties, this hidden wealth, independent of declared wealth, predicts appearance in the Offshore Leaks Database of 2013–16 and is correlated with postcode house-value in 1999 and Oxbridge attendance in 1990–2016. Accounting for hidden wealth eliminates about 28 per cent, at minimum, of the observed decline of the top 1 per cent wealth-share, at the dynastic level, over the past century. Findings show 9 077 dynasties that are hiding £8.9 billion.