28% of all wealth in Ireland owned by top 1%

The top 1% in Ireland own approximately €130.2 billion. For a tiny minority, wealth is a lifestyle choice. By Michael Taft.

The Dublin Council of Trades Unions’ March Against Austerity tomorrow (12 noon from the Garden of Remembrance) is taking place against a rising European and global awareness of the power of the top 1%.  So what about our own homegrown 1%? How much wealth do they own – wealth that translates into economic and political power? Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Data Handbook 2011 (not yet available free online) can give us an insight – as they estimate the concentration of wealth holdings in the top percent deciles.

% of total wealth owned by the top 1% 

Irish concentration of wealth is one of the highest in the EU-15. 28% of all wealth – housing and financial wealth – is owned by the top 1% of adults. That’s an awful lot of wealth for a handful of people.

While Credit Suisse uses US $ in their tables, we can take their proportions to estimate how much this means in euros and cents. They estimate that financial wealth makes up 47% of all wealth. Using CSO data, we therefore find the following:

  • The top 1% is made up of approximately 36,000 adults.
  • This group owns approximately €130.2 billion.

€130.2 billion. Just take a moment to reflect on that.

[Pause for quiet reflection on the amount of wealth owned by 36,000 adults in Ireland]

On average, this means that every adult in the top 1% owns €3.8 million.

[Another pause for quiet reflection on the amount owned by each of the wealthiest in Ireland].

My gut feeling is that the VAT increases, the cuts in social protection, the cuts in public hospital wards and classrooms, and the €100 household charge won’t do much to dent these people’s wealth holdings or income.

This just shows that for some – a very few – wealth is a lifestyle choice.

This is one of many reasons why you should come out tomorrow and join the march.

After all, the 99% have rights too. {jathumbnailoff}


Image top: redmonk.