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Inherited wealth over the path of development: Sweden, 1810–2010

Listed author(s):
  • Ohlsson, Henry

    ()

    (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)

  • Roine, Jesper

    ()

    (SITE, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Waldenström, Daniel

    ()

    (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)

Inherited wealth has attracted much attention recently, much due to the research by Thomas Piketty (Piketty, 2011; 2014). The discussion has mainly revolved around a long-run contrast between Europe and the U.S., even though data on explicit historical inheritance flows are only really available for France and to some extent for the U.K. We study the long-run evolution of inherited wealth in Sweden over the past two hundred years. The trends in Sweden are similar to those in France and the U.K: beginning at a high level in the nineteenth century, falling sharply in the interwar era and staying low thereafter, but tending to increase in recent years. The levels, however, differ greatly. The Swedish flows were only half of those in France and the U.K. before 1900 and also much lower after 1980. The main reason for the low levels in the nineteenth century is that the capital-income ratio is much lower than in “Old Europe”. In fact, the Swedish capital-income ratio was similar to that in the U.S., but the savings and growth rates were much lower in Sweden than in the U.S. Rapid income growth following industrialization and increasing savings rates were also important fac-tors behind the development of the capital-income ratio and the inheritance flow during the twenti-eth century. The recent differences in inheritance flows have several potential explanations related to the Swedish welfare state and pension system. Sweden was “un-European” during the nineteenth century because the country was so poor, Sweden is “un-European” today because so much wealth formation has taken place within the welfare state and the occupational pension systems. JEL: D30,

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Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies with number 2014:7.

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Length: 88 pages
Date of creation: 28 Jun 2014
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uufswp:2014_007
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/
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  1. Ohlsson, Henry, 2011. "The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884–2004," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(03), pages 539-569, December.
  2. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
  3. 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 706-732, August.
  4. Thomas Piketty, 2011. "On the Long-Run Evolution of Inheritance: France 1820--2050," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1071-1131.
  5. Katarina Nordblom & Henry Ohlsson, 2011. "Bequests, gifts, and education: links between intergenerational transfers," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 343-358, April.
  6. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
  7. Du Rietz, Gunnar & Henrekson, Magnus, 2014. "Swedish Wealth Taxation (1911–2007)," Working Paper Series 1000, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Sep 2015.
  8. Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries 1700–2010," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1255-1310.
  9. William G. Gale, 1998. "The Effects of Pensions on Household Wealth: A Reevaluation of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 706-723, August.
  10. Hochguertel, Stefan & Ohlsson, Henry, 2012. "Who is at the top? Wealth mobility over the life cycle," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2012:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  11. Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenström, 2009. "Wealth Concentration over the Path of Development: Sweden, 1873-2006," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(1), pages 151-187, March.
  12. Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
  13. Edvinsson, Sören & Lindkvist, Marie, 2011. "Wealth and health in 19th Century Sweden. A study of social differences in adult mortality in the Sundsvall region," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 376-388, July.
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  15. Magnus Henrekson & Daniel Waldenström, 2016. "Inheritance taxation in Sweden, 1885–2004: the role of ideology, family firms, and tax avoidance," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1228-1254, November.
  16. Bengtsson, Tommy & van Poppel, Frans, 2011. "Socioeconomic inequalities in death from past to present: An introduction," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 343-356, July.
  17. Bengtsson, Tommy & Dribe, Martin, 2011. "The late emergence of socioeconomic mortality differentials: A micro-level study of adult mortality in southern Sweden 1815-1968," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 389-400, July.
  18. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, and Growth in Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199.
  19. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1988. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 41-58, Spring.
  20. Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2008. "The evolution of top incomes in an egalitarian society: Sweden, 1903-2004," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 366-387, February.
  21. Kopczuk, Wojciech & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Top Wealth Shares in the United States, 1916-2000: Evidence From Estate Tax Returns," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 445-487, June.
  22. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-926, Sept./Oct.
  23. Stenkula, Mikael, 2014. "Taxation of Real Estate in Sweden (1862–2013)," Working Paper Series 1018, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Sep 2015.
  24. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2007. "Top Incomes Over the Twentieth Century: A Contrast Between Continental European and English-Speaking Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286881.
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