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The Role of Permanent Income and Demographics in Black/White Differences in Wealth

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  • Joseph G. Altonji

    ()
    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Ulrich Doraszelski
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    Abstract

    We explore the extent to which the huge race gap in wealth can be explained with properly constructed income and demographic variables. In some instances we explain the entire wealth gap with income and demographics provided that we estimate the wealth model on a sample of whites. However, we typically explain a much smaller fraction when we estimate the wealth model on a black sample. Using sibling comparisons to control for intergenerational transfers and the effects of adverse history, we find that differences in income and demographics are not likely to account for the lower explanatory power of the black wealth models. Our analysis of growth models of wealth suggests that differences in savings behavior and/or rates of return play an important role.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp850.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 850.

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    Length: 44 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2000
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:850

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    Related research

    Keywords: Black-White Wealth Gap; Siblings; Savings;

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    References

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    1. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
    2. James P. Smith, 2004. "Racial and Ethnic Differences in Wealth in the Health and Retirement Study," Labor and Demography 0408011, EconWPA.
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    4. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Discussion Papers 96-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Jonathan Gruber & Aaron Yelowitz, 1999. "Public Health Insurance and Private Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1249-1274, December.
    6. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    7. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 2000. "Trends in Self-Employment among White and Black Men during the Twentieth Century," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 643-669.
    8. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence Kotlikoff, 1995. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Joseph G. Altonji & Ulrich Doraszelski, 2001. "The Role of Permanent Income and Demographics in Black/White Differences in Wealth," NBER Working Papers 8473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Menchik, Paul L, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U. S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316, March.
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    12. Francine D. Blau & John W. Graham, 1990. "Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition," NBER Working Papers 2898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Transition To Home Ownership And The Black-White Wealth Gap," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 281-297, May.
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    16. Wilhelm, M.O., 1990. "Bequest Behavior And The Effect Of Heirs' Earnings: Testing The Altruistic Model Of Bequests," Papers 9-90-12, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
    17. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1998. "Trends in homeownership: race, demographics, and income," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 53-72.
    18. Powers, Elizabeth T., 1998. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? evidence from a change in AFDC policy in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 33-53, April.
    19. Joseph G. Altonji & Ulrich Doraszelski & Lewis Segal, 2000. "Black/white differences in wealth," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 38-50.
    20. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Correlation of Welath Across Generations," NBER Working Papers 9314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Menchik, Paul L & Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon, 1997. "Black-White Wealth Inequality: Is Inheritance the Reason?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 428-42, April.
    22. Erik Hurst & James P. Ziliak, 2001. "Welfare Reform and Household Saving," JCPR Working Papers 234, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    23. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
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