How much of the US could the top 1% buy?

If the top 1% of the nation put all of their money into land they would own 40 states.  In contrast the bottom 80% of the nation could only afford to own all the real estate in 3 states.  All the real estate in the contiguous US is estimated to be worth nearly $23 trillion. The top 1% of US households is estimated to be worth $19.2 trillion.  This means that only 1% of the US population could literally afford to buy almost the entire country if it were for sale.

These numbers are based on the top 1% by net worth, instead of income.  Sources and tables are at the bottom of the page.  If you’re curious how close you are to the top 1%, try out the net worth percentile calculator or the income percentile calculator.  They are based on a different data set, but the general trends are the same.

I filled in the maps starting in the west coast and moved east.  I removed states that the 1% couldn’t afford in their $19.2 trillion budget starting with Florida. The 8 states in the contiguous US that weren’t selected are Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

The bottom 80% had a combined wealth of $5.1 trillion, which could pay for California, Oregon, and Washington. I wanted to stay consistent and start from the west coast, so California just based on it’s size and wealth is driving down the number of states.

This is how much land the top 1% could own if all their money was in property

  • Net Worth of the Top 1% ($19.1 trillion)
  • Net Worth of the Bottom 80% ($5.1 trillion)

Real Estate Value

Table of State Real Estate Values

State Real Estate Values ($ billions)
Alabama 400
Arizona 315
Arkansas 224
California 3905
Colorado 429
Connecticut 400
Delaware 72
Dist. Of Columbia 42
Florida 1021
Georgia 528
Idaho 182
Illinois 833
Indiana 387
Iowa 235
Kansas 220
Kentucky 183
Louisiana 354
Maine 122
Maryland 470
Massachusetts 517
Michigan 865
Minnesota 416
Mississippi 166
Missouri 318
Montana 213
Nebraska 144
Nevada 149
New Hampshire 114
New Jersey 930
New Mexico 150
New York 1245
North Carolina 506
North Dakota 110
Ohio 838
Oklahoma 323
Oregon 400
Pennsylvania 914
Rhode Island 90
South Carolina 339
South Dakota 103
Tennessee 380
Texas 1266
Utah 247
Vermont 44
Virginia 555
Washington 716
West Virginia 162
Wisconsin 344
Wyoming 97

Source : New Estimates of Value of Land of the United States (published 2015, 2009 data)

Wealth by Percentile

I thought about using the SCF data that I already include on the calculators pages, but I decided to do some additional third party referencing instead.

Group Total Wealth ($ trillions) Mean Household Wealth ($ millions) Households (millions)
Top 1% $19.18 $16.44 1.167
Next 19% $45.71 $2.06 22.173
60-80% $5.06 $0.22 23.34
40-60% $1.42 $0.06 23.34
Bottom 40% -$0.49 -$0.01 46.68

Wealth Sources : Wealth Power and Income (2010 values)
Household data from the US Census 2010

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