When I read this, I instantly thought of the Occupy movement and their complaints about wealth disparity today. How does it compare?American Colonies by Alan Taylor, p308 wrote:According to tax records, in 1771 the wealthiest tenth of Bostonians owned more than 60% of urban wealth, while the bottom three-tenths owned virtually nothing. Urban radicals denounced the development of greater extremes of wealth and poverty as linked.
I didn't find any modern data about how much of Boston's wealth rests in the hands of the top 10% of it's residents, and it don't particularly expect to. It's a very specific data point that few people have an interest in. But national figures have greater appeal and ought to be easier to come by.
This source has some data for wealth distribution for 1983-2007, saying that the top 1% owns 33-38% of the USA's wealth (net worth) and the next 20% own the next 45-51%. Neither of those are top 10% figures, but it gives a kind of ballpark. I like math, so I did some and I estimate that:
in 1983, the top 10% owned between 57.55% and 67.6% of the country's net worth.
in 1995, between 61.15% and 77%.
and in 2007, between 59.85% and 69.2%.
I'd say that matches "more than 60%" pretty closely. 240 years later, the wealth distribution of our taxpayers is pretty much the same as it was before. I think that's a pretty good indication that history is repeating itself, and we not approaching some radical new level of financial inequality. It's more likely the same ol' same old, a wealth distribution that hasn't changed much in all of American history.
Methodology notes: The bottom of that range is the sum of the top 1% figure and half of the remaining 19% figure; 1 + 9.5 = 10.5, but the wealthier half of those 19% have to have more money than the poorer half, so that math accounts for something less than the wealth of those 10.5 percentage points and presumably less than 10%. The top of that range is double the 1% figure; since the wealth of the top 1% is nearly as much as the wealth of the next 19%, double the wealth of the top 1% is probably closer to the wealth of the top 20% than of the top 10%. This doesn't account for the financial crisis that started at the end of 2008 and is still reverberating today.