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Secular Changes in Wealth Inequality and Inheritance

  • Laitner, John

Data suggest that the distribution of wealth among households in the USA and UK has become more equal over the last century, though, at least for the USA, the pattern may have reversed recently. This paper shows that a model in which all households save for life-cycle reasons and some for dynastic purposes as well offers a possible or partial explanation: the model predicts rising cross-sectional equality of wealth when longevity increases. There may also be implications about very recent changes: expansion of social security programmes and government deficits can lead toward more wealth inequality. Slower growth may do the same.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 111 (2001)
Issue (Month): 474 (October)
Pages: 691-721

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:111:y:2001:i:474:p:691-721
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  1. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Woodford, Michael, 1986. "Stationary sunspot equilibria in a finance constrained economy," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 128-137, October.
  3. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence Kotlikoff, . "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," IPR working papers 95-22, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  4. Laitner, John, 1993. "Intergenerational and interhousehold economic links," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 189-238 Elsevier.
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  9. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
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  16. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2000. "Measuring Time Preference and Parental Altruism: Technical Paper 2000-7," Working Papers 13333, Congressional Budget Office.
  17. Luisa Fuster, 1997. "Is altruism important for understanding the long-run effects of social security?," Economics Working Papers 234, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  18. Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
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