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Women, Wealth, and Mobility

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  • Lena Edlund
  • Wojciech Kopczuk

Abstract

Using estate tax returns data, we observe that the share of women among the very wealthy in the United States peaked in the late 1960s at nearly one-half and then declined to one-third. We argue that this pattern reflects changes in the importance of dynastic wealth, with the share of women proxying for inherited wealth. If so, wealth mobility decreased until the 1970s and rose thereafter. Such an interpretation is consistent with technological change driving longterm trends in mobility and inequality, as well as the recent divergence between top wealth and top income shares documented elsewhere. (JEL D31, J16, J62, O33)

Suggested Citation

  • Lena Edlund & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2009. "Women, Wealth, and Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 146-178, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:1:p:146-78
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.1.146
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld02-1, Juni.
    2. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Bequest and Tax Planning: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1801-1854.
    3. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
    4. Martin S. Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Introduction to "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 1-10, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Facundo Alvaredo & Bertrand Garbinti & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "On the Share of Inheritance in Aggregate Wealth: Europe and the USA, 1900–2010," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 239-260, April.
    2. GRABKA Markus & MARCUS Jan & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2013. "Wealth distribution within couples and financial decision making," LISER Working Paper Series 2013-02, LISER.
    3. Sierminska, Eva & Piazzalunga, Daniela & Grabka, Markus M., 2018. "Transitioning towards more equality? Wealth gender differences and the changing role of explanatory factors over time," GLO Discussion Paper Series 252, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2007. "Uncovering the American Dream: Inequality and Mobility in Social Security Earnings Data since 1937," NBER Working Papers 13345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Anthony B. Atkinson & Alessandra Casarico & Sarah Voitchovsky, 2018. "Top incomes and the gender divide," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 225-256, June.
    6. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden: Capitalist dynasties in the land of equal opportunity?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 474-484.
    7. Sierminska, Eva M. & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 669-690.
    8. Grabka, Markus M. & Marcus, Jan & Sierminska, Eva, 2015. "Wealth Distribution within Couples," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 459-486.
    9. Alyssa Schneebaum & Miriam Rehm & Katharina Mader & Katarina Hollan, 2018. "The Gender Wealth Gap Across European Countries," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(2), pages 295-331, June.
    10. Sierminska, Eva & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2008. "Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3573, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden – A combination of equal opportunity and capitalistic dynasties," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 705, Stockholm School of Economics.
    12. 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.
    13. Roman Bobilev & Anne Boschini & Jesper Roine, 2020. "Women in the Top of the Income Distribution: What Can We Learn From LIS-Data?," 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 63-107, March.
    14. Frank A. Cowell & Philippe Kerm, 2015. "Wealth Inequality: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 671-710, September.
    15. Fortin, Nicole M. & Bell, Brian & Böhm, Michael, 2017. "Top earnings inequality and the gender pay gap: Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 107-123.
    16. Frémeaux, Nicolas & Leturcq, Marion, 2018. "Prenuptial agreements and matrimonial property regimes in France, 1855–2010," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 132-142.
    17. Sommer, Mathias, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," Papers 08-12, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    18. Karagiannaki, Eleni, 2015. "Recent trends in the size and the distribution of inherited wealth in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59949, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Frémeaux, Nicolas & Leturcq, Marion, 2020. "Inequalities and the individualization of wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    20. Jaanika Meriküll & Merike Kukk & Tairi Rõõm, 2020. "What Explains the Gender Gap in Wealth? Evidence from Administrative Data," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2020. "Women in top incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1971–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    22. Korom, Philipp & Lutter, Mark & Beckert, Jens, 2015. "The enduring importance of family wealth: Evidence from the Forbes 400, 1982 to 2013," MPIfG Discussion Paper 15/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    23. Mathias Sommer, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," MEA discussion paper series 08160, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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    1. Women, Wealth, and Mobility (AER 2009) in ReplicationWiki

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