Wealth in Germany: Structures, Continuities, and Fractures

Daria Tisch

A small group of families or individuals, with fortunes amounting to at least hundreds of millions of euros, sit at the top end of the wealth distribution in Germany. Relatively little is known about this small group. This project uses rich lists to look at the so-called superrich in Germany. It examines various characteristics of the individuals, their families, and their associated companies or sources of wealth. For this purpose, the list of the “1001 wealthiest Germans” published by manager magazin in 2019 is augmented with sociodemographic information about individuals and families from encyclopedias and other publicly accessible sources. Alongside describing the social composition of the 1001 wealthiest German families, this study will examine the origins of today’s largest fortunes to study the long-term perpetuation of wealth. To this end, today’s superrich will be compared with rich lists from the late German Empire. Thereby, families are identified who could perpetuate their fortunes over more than a century. Overall, this project will provide rich quantitative insights into the very top of the German wealth distribution.

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