IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

The distribution of wealth

In: Handbook of Income Distribution

Listed author(s):
  • Davies, James B.
  • Shorrocks, Anthony F.

This chapter is concerned with the distribution of personal wealth, which usually refers to the material assets that can be sold in the marketpace, although on occasion pension rights are also included. We summarise the available evidence on wealth distribution for a number of countries. This confirms the well known fact that wealth is more unequally distributed than income, and points to a long term downward trend in wealth inequality over most of the twentieth century. We also review the various theories that help account for these feature. Lifecycle accumulation is one popular explanation of wealth differences, but inheritance is also widely recognised as playing a major role, especially at the upper end of the wealth range. A recurrent theme in work on wealth distribution is the relative importance of these two sources of wealth differences. We discuss the results of studies that assess the contributions of inheritance and lifecycle factors, and give attention also to a variety of related issues, such as the link between wealth status across generations, and the possible motives for leaving bequests.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), 2000. "Handbook of Income Distribution," Handbook of Income Distribution, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, 00.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Income Distribution with number 1-11.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:incchp:1-11
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:incchp:1-11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.