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Financial Wealth Inequality in the United States and Great Britain

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  • James Banks
  • Richard Blundell
  • James P. Smith

Abstract

In this paper the authors describe the household wealth distribution in the U.S. and the U.K., and compare both wealth inequality and the form in which wealth is held. Unconditionally, there are large differences in financial wealth between the two countries at the top fifth of the wealth distribution. Even after controlling for age and income differences between the two countries, the authors show that the median U.S. household accumulates more financial wealth than its U.K. counterpart. They explore a number of alternative reasons for these differences and reject some explanations as implausible. Some of the observed differences are due to what the authors refer to as "initial conditions," in particular previously high rates of corporate equity ownership in the U.S. and housing ownership among young British households. But since these differences existed even in the early 1980s, initial conditions only provide a partial explanation. One other partial explanation may be that due to forced and voluntary annuitization of retirement incomes, older British households face considerably less longevity risk.

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File URL: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/drafts/2008/DRU2440.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 01-01.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:01-01

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References

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  1. Chiuri, Maria Concetta & Jappelli, Tullio, 2003. "Financial market imperfections and home ownership: A comparative study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 857-875, October.
  2. repec:ese:iserwp:2000-15 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  4. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
  5. Simon Burgess & Karen Gardiner & Stephen Jenkins & Carol Propper, 2000. "Measuring income risk," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51327, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2000. "The Life Cycle Model of Consumption and Saving," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 28, McMaster University.
  7. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Brugiavini, Agar, 2001. "Risk Pooling, Precautionary Saving and Consumption Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 757-79, October.
  8. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 631-49, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan Crook & Stefan Hochguertel, 2007. "US and European Household Debt and Credit Constraints," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-087/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Richard Disney & Sarah Bridges & John Gathergood, 2006. "Housing Wealth and Household Indebtedness: Is there a Household 'Financial Accelerator'?," Working Papers 2006/12, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
  3. Cagetti, Marco & De Nardi, Mariacristina, 2008. "Wealth Inequality: Data And Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 285-313, September.
  4. Bover, Olympia, 2008. "Wealth inequality and household structure: US vs. Spain," CEPR Discussion Papers 6680, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Zoë Oldfield & James P. Smith, 2007. "Housing Price Volatility and Downsizing in Later Life," NBER Working Papers 13496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sònia Muñoz, 2006. "Wealth Effects in Europe: A Tale of Two Countries (Italy and the United Kingdom)," IMF Working Papers 06/30, International Monetary Fund.

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