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How the rich get richer – money in the world economy

富人如何变得更富有——世界经济中的金钱


A paper co-authored this year by economists from the IMF and other institutions confirms that wealthier people are more likely to earn higher returns on their investments. It also shows that the children of wealthy people, while likely to inherit that wealth, aren’t necessarily going to make the same high returns on investments.

国际货币基金组织(IMF)和其他机构的经济学家今年共同撰写的一篇论文证实,较富裕的人更有可能在投资中获得更高的回报。研究还表明,富人的子女虽然可能继承财富,但未必会获得同样高的投资回报。

Detailed data on wealth are extremely rare, but 12-years of tax records (2004-2015) from Norway have opened a new window into wealth accumulation for individuals and their offspring. The Nordic country has a wealth tax that requires assets to be reported by employers, banks and other third parties in order to reduce errors from self-reporting. The data, which are made public under certain conditions, also make it possible to match parents with their children.

有关财富的详细数据极为罕见,但挪威12年的纳税记录(2004-2015年)为个人及其后代的财富积累打开了新的窗口。这个北欧国家有一项财富税,要求雇主、银行和其他第三方报告资产,以减少自我报告的错误。这些数据在一定条件下公开,也使比较父母与其子女成为了可能。


Another significant finding: High returns both bring individuals to the top of the wealth scale and prevent them from leaving it. Controlling for age, parental background and earnings, moving from the 10th percentile to 90th percentile of wealth distribution increases the probability of making it to the top 1 percent by 1.2 percentage points compared to an average probability of 0.89 percent.

另一项重要发现是:高回报既能让个人登上财富榜的顶端,也能让他们不会离开。如果考虑年龄、父母背景和收入等因素,从财富分配的第10个百分位到第90百分位,进入最富有的1%的概率就会增加1.2个百分点,而平均几率为0.89%。

The wealthy get wealthier
Individuals at a higher level of wealth get higher risk-adjusted returns from their investments.(percent)

富人变得更富有
财富水平较高的个人从投资中获得更高的风险调整后收益。(百分比)


Source: Fagereng et al. (2020) Heterogeneity and persistence in returns to wealth. Econometrica 88(1): 115-170.
Note: The figure shows the average return to the individual financial wealth portfolios adjusted for their volatility for 2005-2015 against the financial wealth percentile in 2004.

资料来源:Fagereng et al. (2020) 《财富回报的异质性和持续性》。计量经济学 88(1):115-170。
注:该图显示了2005-2015年个人金融财富投资组合的平均回报率,根据2004年的金融财富百分位数进行了调整。

Why do rich people earn high returns? Conventional wisdom suggests that richer individuals put more of their assets toward high risk investments, which can result in higher returns. But our research finds that wealthy people often earn a higher return even on more conservative investments. Richer individuals enjoy pure “returns to scale” to their wealth. Specifically, for given portfolio allocation, individuals who are wealthier are more likely to get higher risk-adjusted returns, possibly because they have access to exclusive investment opportunities or better wealth managers. Financial sophistication, financial information, and entrepreneurial talent are also important. These characteristics make the returns to wealth persistent over time. This research is the first to quantify this mechanism and show that it is likely to matter empirically.

为什么富人能获得高回报?传统观点认为,较富有的人会将更多资产投入高风险投资,这可能会带来更高的回报。但我们的研究发现,富人即使在较为保守的投资中也往往能获得更高的回报。更富有的人享受的是纯粹的财富“按比例回报”。具体来说,就特定的投资组合配置而言,较富裕的个人更有可能获得经风险调整后的更高回报,这可能是因为他们有机会获得独家投资机会或更好的财富管理机构。金融成熟度、金融信息和创业人才也很重要。这些特征使得财富回报随着时间的推移而持续。这项研究首次对这种机制进行了量化,并表明它可能是重要的经验。

Do high returns persist across generations? The answer is a qualified yes. Wealth has a high degree of intergenerational correlation, but there are important differences in how returns to wealth accrue across generations. The children of the richest are likely to be very rich, but unlikely to get as high returns from this wealth as their parents did. This suggests that while money is perfectly inheritable, exceptional talent is not.

高回报会持续几代人吗?答案是肯定的。财富具有高度的代际相关性,但在财富回报如何在几代人之间积累方面存在重要差异。最富有的孩子可能会非常富有,但不太可能像他们的父母那样从这些财富中获得高回报。这表明,虽然金钱完全可以继承,但非凡的才华却不能。