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Earnings Inequality and Other Determinants of Wealth Inequality

Author

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  • Jess Benhabib
  • Alberto Bisin
  • Mi Luo

Abstract

We study the relation between the distribution of labor earnings and the distribution of wealth. We show, theoretically as well as empirically, that while labor earnings and precautionary savings are important determinants of wealth inequality factors, they cannot by themselves account for the thick tail of (the large top shares in) the observed distribution of wealth. Other determinants, like stochastic returns to wealth, as well as savings rates and rates of returns increasing in wealth, need to be accounted for.

Suggested Citation

  • Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin & Mi Luo, 2017. "Earnings Inequality and Other Determinants of Wealth Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 593-597, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:593-97
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20171005
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Atkeson & Magnus Irie, 2020. "Understanding 100 Years of the Evolution of Top Wealth Shares in the U.S.: What is the Role of Family Firms?," Staff Report 610, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    2. Toda, Alexis Akira, 2019. "Wealth distribution with random discount factors," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 101-113.
    3. Borri, Nicola & Reichlin, Pietro, 2018. "Wealth Taxes and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 13067, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Thomas Epper & Ernst Fehr & Helga Fehr-Duda & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & David Dreyer Lassen & Søren Leth-Petersen & Gregers Nytoft Rasmussen, 2020. "Time Discounting and Wealth Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(4), pages 1177-1205, April.
    5. Sergio Ocampo & Gueorgui Kambourov & Daphne Chen & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Fatih Guvenen, 2017. "Use It or Lose It: Efficiency Gains from Wealth Taxation," 2017 Meeting Papers 913, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Shubin Wang & Junsheng Ha & Hakan Kalkavan & Serhat Yüksel & Hasan Dinçer, 2020. "IT2-Based Hybrid Approach for Sustainable Economic Equality: A Case of E7 Economies," SAGE Open, , vol. 10(2), pages 21582440209, May.
    7. Ma, Qingyin & Stachurski, John & Toda, Alexis Akira, 2020. "The income fluctuation problem and the evolution of wealth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 187(C).
    8. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Spyridon Lazarakis & James Malley, 2019. "The distributional effects of peer and aspirational pressure," Working Papers 2019_06, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    9. Paolo Acciari & Salvatore Morelli, 2020. "Wealth Transfers and Net Wealth at Death: Evidence from the Italian Inheritance Tax Records 1995–2016," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Lei, Xiaowen, 2019. "Information and Inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    11. Angelos Angelopoulos & Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Spyridon Lazarakis & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2019. "The Distributional Consequences of Rent Seeking," CESifo Working Paper Series 7835, CESifo.
    12. Fedotenkov, Igor, 2018. "A review of more than one hundred Pareto-tail index estimators," MPRA Paper 90072, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Kasa, Kenneth & Lei, Xiaowen, 2018. "Risk, uncertainty, and the dynamics of inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 60-78.
    14. Salvatore Morelli, 2020. "The Dynamics of Wealth Concentration: Thoughts on Tony Atkinson’s Contributions," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 197-205, March.
    15. Fagereng, Andreas & Guiso, Luigi & Holm, Martin & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2020. "K-Returns to Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 14310, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Hubar, Sylwia & Koulovatianos, Christos & Li, Jian, 2020. "The role of labor-income risk in household risk-taking," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    17. Andrew Atkeson & Magnus Irie, 2020. "Understanding 100 Years of the Evolution of Top Wealth Shares in the U.S.: What is the Role of Family Firms?," NBER Working Papers 27465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Anand Sahasranaman & Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen, 2019. "Dynamics of reallocation within India's income distribution," Papers 1909.04452, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2020.
    19. Michael M. Batty & Jesse Bricker & Joseph S. Briggs & Alice Henriques Volz & Elizabeth Ball Holmquist & Susan Hume McIntosh & Kevin B. Moore & Eric Nielsen & Sarah Reber & Molly Shatto & Kamila Sommer, 2019. "Introducing the Distributional Financial Accounts of the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2019-017, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    20. Joachim Hubmer & Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith Jr., 2020. "Sources of US Wealth Inequality: Past, Present, and Future," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2020, volume 35, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Michael Batty & Jesse Bricker & Joseph Briggs & Sarah Friedman & Danielle Nemschoff & Eric Nielsen & Kamila Sommer & Alice Henriques Volz, 2020. "The Distributional Financial Accounts of the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Spyridon Lazarakis & James Malley, 2019. "The distributional effects of peer and aspirational pressure," Working Papers 2019-06, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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