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Retirement Wealth and Lifetime Earnings

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  • Hendricks, Lutz A.

Abstract

This article argues that a satisfactory theory of wealth inequality should account not only for the marginal distribution of wealth, but also for the joint distribution of wealth and earnings. The paper describes the joint distribution of retirement wealth and lifetime earnings in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. It then evaluates the ability of a stochastic life-cycle model to account for key features of this distribution. The life-cycle model fails to account for three key features of the data. (i) The correlation between lifetime earnings and retirement wealth is too high. (ii) The wealth gaps between earnings rich and earnings poor households are too large. (iii) Wealth inequality among households with similar lifetime earnings is too small. Models in which households differ in rates of return or time preferences account much better for the joint distribution of retirement wealth and lifetime earnings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 12668.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 1970
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Publication status: Published in International Economic Review, May 2007, vol. 48 no. 2, pp. 421-456
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12668

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Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
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Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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Cited by:
  1. Almås, Ingvild & Mogstad, Magne, 2010. "Older or Wealthier? The Impact of Age Adjustment on Cross-Sectional Inequality Measures," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 9/2010, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  2. Hendricks, Lutz, 2007. "How important is discount rate heterogeneity for wealth inequality?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 3042-3068, September.

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