Effects of Taxation: Investments by Individuals

By J. Keith Butters; Lynn L. Bollinger | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
Concentration of Marketable Stock Within
Top Wealth Groups

IN CHAPTER II summary estimates were presented of the concentration of the ownership of marketable stock by income and wealth groups. This chapter and Chapter XVII have the limited purpose of describing the technical analysis on which these estimates are based. The concentration of the ownership of marketable stock by wealth groups is considered in this chapter and that by income groups in the next chapter.

The available data require that our estimate of the degree of concentration of marketable stock within the top wealth classes be made in two steps. First, estimates are made of the concentration of earketable stockholdings classified by the amounts of marketable stock held. That is to say, estimates are presented of the percentage of all outstanding marketable stock held by individuals -- or rather spending units -- owning, say, at least $25,000 or $100,000 of such stock. Thereafter, a rough estimate is made of the net worth brackets of spending units holding large blocks of marketable stock. The data permit the first of these steps to be made with considerably greater precision than the second.

The term marketable stock is used as a shorthand expression for the concept described by the Survey Research Center as stock in corporations open to investment by the general public.1 It includes both the preferred and common stock of such corporations but excludes the stock of privately held corporations. As a practical matter, however, the value of the marketable common stock held by individuals is vastly greater than that of their marketable preferred stock, the ratio being in the order of 10 to 1. Consequently, the following distributions of

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1
See, for example, the "1949 Survey of Consumer Finances, Part VI", Federal Reserve Bulletin, October 1949, p. 1191.

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