Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Sheldon Langsam

Second Advisor

Jerry Krueze

Third Advisor

Thomas Schultz


This paper explores the topic of the wealthiest one percent of Americans, in terms of net economic wealth. I have observed many generalizations of this group from school, work, media, and so forth, thus, I will be approaching the topic from a statistical standpoint to gain a deeper understanding of the role that these Americans play in our society. The goal of this paper is to inform the reader, through the presentation and discussion of available data used to define this group. To accomplish this, I will be covering several topics. First, I will discuss who the one percent is and why they matter. I believe that the first step in any situation should be to gain a good understanding of the information. In this section I hope to outline who the one percent is, based on statistical data, and why this group is at the center of so much discussion today in the United States of America. Second, I will discuss the two primary modes of measuring wealth: annual income and net worth. Third, I will explain the analytical methods used to present information. In this section the main discussion will be the difference between using a mean (average) amount and a median (middle) amount to present information, and which provides a more meaningful representation of the typical member of the one percent. Fourth, I will address the statistical qualifications for members of the one percent, including the lower cutoff amount and the average amount of wealth for individuals in this group. Fifth, I will describe sources of the wealth of the one percent. Finally, I will explain the tax burden of the one percent. In this section I discuss effective v. average tax rate calculations, corporate taxation, forms of taxation in addition to income tax, and more. Through this process it is not my intent to form the reader’s opinions, but rather present the facts and allow them to create their own opinions.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Included in

Accounting Commons