Measured by income, the top 1% of Australian income earners get more than $250,000 a year. That is, if you earn less than $250,000, you’re in the 99%. In terms of household wealth, the richest 1% of Australian households have net assets totalling more than $5 million. So, if you’re worth less than $5 million, you’re part of the 99%.

But are the 1% getting more than their fair share and, if so, how much?

The percentage of the nation’s wealth owned by the top 1% has followed the same pattern in all of the Anglo-Saxon countries.

From "Distribution of Top Incomes in Five Angle-Saxon Countries over the Twentieth Century" by Anthony B Atkinson and Andrew Leigh
From “Distribution of Top Incomes in Five Anglo-Saxon Countries over the Twentieth Century” by Anthony B Atkinson and Andrew Leigh

In the 1920s, the percentage was high: Then came the Depression and the War and the percentages fell.The percentages continued to fall gradually until the Thatcher/Raegan era around 1980. (Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979; Ronald Raegan became President in 1981.) From 1980, the percentages began to climb.

The authors of the paper from which the graph comes found that the wealth of the top 1% inversely correlates to the rate of tax on high incomes.

We’ve almost managed to get back to the wealth distribution pattern of the 1920s. Then a Depression and War evened things out. Perhaps a tax increase for the wealthy would be a better solution.