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Wealth inequality, intergenerational links and estate taxation

  • Mariacristina De Nardi

Empirical studies have shown that, for many countries, the distribution of wealth is much more concentrated than the one of labor earnings. We do not have yet a satisfactory model that can generate enough concentration in wealth from the one for earnings. I construct a computable general equilibrium model with overlapping generations in which parents and children are linked by bequests and earnings within families. I show that bequests are important to explain the emergence of large estates that characterize the top of the wealth distribution and that the introduction of a bequest motive generates lifetime saving profiles more consistent with the data. Moreover, allowing for earnings persistence within families generates an even more concentrated wealth distribution. A cross-country comparison between the U.S. and Sweden shows that intergenerational linkages are important also in economies where redistribution programs are more prominent and there is less inequality.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-99-13.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-99-13
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  1. Orazio P. Attanasio & James Banks & Costas Meghir & Guglielmo Weber, 1995. "Humps and Bumps in Lifetime Consumption," NBER Working Papers 5350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Aaron, Henry J. & Munnell, Alicia H., 1992. "Reassessing the Role for Wealth Transfer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(2), pages 119-43, June.
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