Inheritances and the Distribution of Wealth or Whatever Happened to the Great Inheritance Boom? Results from the SCF and PSID
AbstractUsing data from both the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we found that on average over the period from 1984 to 2007, about one fifth of American households at a given point of time received a wealth transfer and these accounted for about a quarter of their net worth. Over the lifetime, about 30 percent of households could expect to receive a wealth transfer and these would account for close to 40 percent of their net worth near time of death. However, there is little evidence of an inheritance “boom.” In fact, from 1989 to 2007, the share of households in the SCF reporting a wealth transfer fell by 2.5 percentage points. The average value of inheritances received among all households did increase but at a slow pace, by 10 percent, but wealth transfers as a proportion of current net worth fell sharply over this period, from 29 to 19 percent. We also found, somewhat surprisingly, that inheritances and other wealth transfers tend to be equalizing in terms of the distribution of household wealth. Indeed, the addition of wealth transfers to other sources of household wealth has had a sizeable effect on reducing the inequality of wealth.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16840.
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Kessler, Denis & Masson, Andre, 1989. "Bequest and Wealth Accumulation: Are Some Pieces of the Puzzle Missing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 141-52, Summer.
- Laitner, J. & Ohlsson, H., 1998.
"Bequest Motives: a Comparison of Sweden and the United States,"
1998:16, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
- Laitner, John & Ohlsson, Henry, 2001. "Bequest motives: a comparison of Sweden and the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 205-236, January.
- Laitner, John & Ohlsson, Henry, 1998. "Bequest Motives: A Comparison of Sweden and the United States," Working Paper Series 1998:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
- Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2007.
"To Leave or Not to Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 207-235.
- Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph Lupton, 2005. "To Leave or Not To Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," NBER Working Papers 11767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2004. "To leave or not to leave: the distribution of bequest motives," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994.
"Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
- 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.
- William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Edward N. Wolff & Ajit Zacharias & Thomas Masterson, 2012. "Trends In American Living Standards And Inequality, 1959–2007," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 58(2), pages 197-232, 06.
- Jeffrey Brown & Scott Weisbenner, 2004. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 181-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Thomas Y. Mathä & Alessandro Porpiglia & Michael Ziegelmeyer, 2014. "Household wealth in the euro area: The importance of intergenerational transfers, homeownership and house price dynamics," BCL working papers 91, Central Bank of Luxembourg.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.