Retirement Wealth and Lifetime Earnings
This article argues that a satisfactory theory of wealth inequality should account not only for the marginal distribution of wealth, but also for the joint distribution of wealth and earnings. The paper describes the joint distribution of retirement wealth and lifetime earnings in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. It then evaluates the ability of a stochastic life-cycle model to account for key features of this distribution. The life-cycle model fails to account for three key features of the data. (i) The correlation between lifetime earnings and retirement wealth is too high. (ii) The wealth gaps between earnings rich and earnings poor households are too large. (iii) Wealth inequality among households with similar lifetime earnings is too small. Models in which households differ in rates of return or time preferences account much better for the joint distribution of retirement wealth and lifetime earnings.
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|Date of creation:||01 Jan 1970|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in International Economic Review, May 2007, vol. 48 no. 2, pp. 421-456|
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