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Capital and Wealth in the Twenty-First Century

Listed author(s):
  • David N. Weil

In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty uses the market value of tradable assets to measure both productive capital and wealth. As a measure of wealth this is problematic because it ignores the value of human capital and transfer wealth, which have grown enormously over the last 300 years. Thus the constancy of the wealth/income ratio as portrayed in his data is an illusion. Further, the types of wealth that he does not measure are more equally distributed than tradable assets. The approach also incorrectly identifies capital gains due to reduced discount rates as increases in the capital stock.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.p20151057
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File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/aer/ds/10505/P2015_1057_ds.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 105 (2015)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
Pages: 34-37

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:5:p:34-37
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20151057
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  1. Thomas Piketty, 2011. "On the Long-Run Evolution of Inheritance: France 1820--2050," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1071-1131.
  2. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Population," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 1-30, May.
  3. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Society," NBER Working Papers 19930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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