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 and this project uses rich lists to take a 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 German families published by the Manager Magazin in 2019 is augmented with socio-demographic 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. Project duration: April 2021 to March 2024.

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