Wealth concentration and the ‘patrimonial middle class’ in the contemporary European-American civilization

E. Čižo, V. Menshikov, A. Kokarevica, N. Selivanova-Fyodorova

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The study aims at the comparative analysis of the trends in wealth concentration and formation of the ‘patrimonial middle class’ (the term by Piketty) in the countries of the contemporary European-American civilization (EAC). T. Piketty suggests that wealth concentration is increasing again (as in the 18th — 19th centuries), and the formation of the ‘patrimonial middle class’ is the most significant structural change in the long-term wealth distribution. The authors chose five parts of the EAC from West to East: USA, Western Europe, Latvia, Ukraine, and Russia. To measure and compare wealth inequality, the authors used statistical deciles: the top 10 % (including the top 1 %), the middle 40 % and the bottom 50 % of the population. 1995 and 2021 were chosen as time points for the diachronic analysis of the data from the World Inequality Database. The study results show that in different parts of the contemporary EAC, wealth concentration and the formation of the ‘patrimonial middle class’ differ in pace and sometimes in direction: from rapid concentration to deconcentration. Wealth concentration in the hands of the top 1 % of Americans has increased over the past 26 years from 28 % to 35 %, of Russians — from 21 % to 48 %. According to Piketty, such a situation (especially as in Russia) is a harbinger of social revolution. In terms of the wealth concentration level, Latvia and Ukraine represent an intermediate case between Western Europe and the USA/Russia. At the same time, the USA, Western Europe and Russia differ greatly in the cultural-value perspective. The authors question the united EAC in the 21st century and define it as split into an ‘initial core’ (European civilization) and two constantly conflicting ‘peripheries’ (American and Russian civilizations).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-936
Number of pages18
JournalRUDN Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • cultural dimensions by Hofstede
  • diachronic analysis
  • European-American civilization (EAC)
  • statistical deciles
  • wealth concentration
  • ‘patrimonial middle class’

Field of Science*

  • 5.4 Sociology

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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