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Secular Changes in Wealth Inequality and Inheritance

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  • John Laitner

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Data suggest the distribution of wealth among households in the United States and the United Kingdom has become more equal over the last century — though the pattern may have reversed recently. This paper shows that a model in which all households save for life–cycle reasons and some for dynastic purposes as well offers a possible explanation: the model predicts rising cross–sectional equality of wealth when longevity increases. In terms of recent changes, the model suggests that expansion of social security programs and government debt can lead toward more wealth inequality, and that slower growth may do the same.

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File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp020.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp020.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp020

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  1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1988. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 41-58, Spring.
  2. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
  3. Richard V. Burkhauser & Timothy M. Smeeding & Joachim Merz, 1994. "Relative Inequality and Poverty in Germany and the United States Using Alternative Equivalence Scales," FFB-Discussionpaper 12, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)), LEUPHANA University Lüneburg.
  4. W. G. Gale & J. K. Scholz, . "Intergenerational transfers and the accumulation of wealth," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1019-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  5. Caselli, G & Ventura, J, 1996. "A Representative Consumer Theory of Distribution," Papers 534, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  6. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU , Pierre, 1994. "Fiscal Policy in a Growth Model with Both Altruistic and Non Altruistic Agents," CORE Discussion Papers 1994049, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 3046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Michael R. Darby, 1978. "The Effects of Social Security on Income and the Capital Stock," UCLA Economics Working Papers 095, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Laitner, John, 1991. "Modeling Marital Connections among Family Lines," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1123-41, December.
  10. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Luisa Fuster, 1999. "Is Altruism Important for Understanding the Long-Run Effects of Social Security?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 616-637, July.
  12. Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
  13. 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.
  14. Woodford, Michael, 1986. "Stationary sunspot equilibria in a finance constrained economy," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 128-137, October.
  15. Laitner, John & Juster, F Thomas, 1996. "New Evidence on Altruism: A Study of TIAA-CREF Retirees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 893-908, September.
  16. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
  17. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2000. "Measuring Time Preference and Parental Altruism: Technical Paper 2000-7," Working Papers 13333, Congressional Budget Office.
  18. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "International Comparisons of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-51, December.
  19. Laitner, John, 1993. "Intergenerational and interhousehold economic links," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 189-238 Elsevier.
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