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Wealth and the capitalist spirit

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  • Francis, Johanna L.

Abstract

The wealth distribution in the U.S. is more unequal than either the income or earnings distribution, a fact current models of saving behavior have difficulty explaining. Using Max Weber's [Weber, M. (1905). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Charles Scribners' and Sons (1958 translated edition)] idea that individuals may have a 'capitalist spirit', I construct and simulate a model where individuals accumulate wealth for its own sake rather than as deferred consumption. Including capitalist spirit preferences in a simple life cycle model, with no other modifications, generates a skewness of wealth consistent with that observed in the U.S. economy. Furthermore, capitalist spirit preferences provide a way to generate decreasing risk aversion with increases in wealth without resorting to idiosyncratic rates of time preference.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis, Johanna L., 2009. "Wealth and the capitalist spirit," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 394-408, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:31:y:2009:i:3:p:394-408
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capitalist spirit Life cycle Wealth inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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