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Inheritance in Germany 1911 to 2009: A Mortality Multiplier Approach

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  • Christoph Schinke

Abstract

We estimate the size of inheritance and gift flows in Germany for selected years over the last century, applying the methodology used by Piketty (2011) for France and combining national accounts, tax statistics and survey data (mainly the German Socio-Economic Panel, SOEP). The data clearly supports the finding of a U-shaped evolution. The annual flow of inheritance and gifts was almost 15% of national income in 1911 and declined to less then 2% by the middle of the last century. Over the last five decades, it has risen steadily to over 10% of national income in recent years, amounting to Euro 220 billion in 2009. The pattern is close to the evolution in France, but at a slightly lower level. Evidence on transfers based on pure household survey data or inheritance tax statistics yields much lower values. We can decompose the gap between the taxed and the aggregate inheritance flow: controlling for valuation and tax evasion effects, the taxed flow would be at least twice as high; tax exemption effects account for the rest.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Schinke, 2012. "Inheritance in Germany 1911 to 2009: A Mortality Multiplier Approach," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 462, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp462
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marius Brulhart & Didier Dupertuis & Elodie Moreau, 2016. "Inheritance Flows in Switzerland, 1911-2011," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 16.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    2. Abraham, Martin & Lorek, Kerstin & Richter, Friedemann & Wrede, Matthias, 2014. "Strictness of tax compliance norms: A factorial survey on the acceptance of inheritance tax evasion in Germany," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 07/2014, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    3. Fehr, Hans & Kallweit, Manuel & Kindermann, Fabian, 2017. "Families and social security," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 30-56.
    4. Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2013. "Reforming Family Taxation in Germany - Labor Supply vs. Insurance Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 4386, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Sommer, Eric, 2017. "Wealth Transfers and Tax Planning: Evidence for the German Bequest Tax," IZA Discussion Papers 11120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "The Top 1 Percent in International and Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 3-20, Summer.
    7. Andreas Eder, 2016. "The impact of inheritances on the retirement behavior of older Europeans," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 43(2), pages 299-331, May.
    8. Jan Behringer & Thomas Theobald & Till van Treeck, 2014. "Income and Wealth Distributionin Germany: A Macro-Economic Perspective," IMK Report 99e-2014, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.

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    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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