IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp9227.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth

Author

Listed:
  • Black, Sandra E.

    () (Columbia University)

  • Devereux, Paul J.

    () (University College Dublin)

  • Lundborg, Petter

    () (Lund University)

  • Majlesi, Kaveh

    () (Lund University)

Abstract

Wealth is highly correlated between parents and their children; however, little is known about the extent to which these relationships are genetic or determined by environmental factors. We use administrative data on the net wealth of a large sample of Swedish adoptees merged with similar information for their biological and adoptive parents. Comparing the relationship between the wealth of adopted and biological parents and that of the adopted child, we find that, even prior to any inheritance, there is a substantial role for environment and a much smaller role for genetics. We also examine the role played by bequests and find that, when they are taken into account, the role of adoptive parental wealth becomes much stronger. Our findings suggest that wealth transmission is not primarily because children from wealthier families are inherently more talented or more able but that, even in relatively egalitarian Sweden, wealth begets wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Lundborg, Petter & Majlesi, Kaveh, 2015. "Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth," IZA Discussion Papers 9227, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9227
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp9227.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden: Capitalist dynasties in the land of equal opportunity?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 474-484.
    2. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028.
    3. David Cesarini & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Örjan Sandewall & Björn Wallace, 2010. "Genetic Variation in Financial Decision‐Making," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(5), pages 1725-1754, October.
    4. Andreas Fagereng & Charles Gottlieb & Luigi Guiso, 2017. "Asset Market Participation and Portfolio Choice over the Life-Cycle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 72(2), pages 705-750, April.
    5. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2007. "Down or Out: Assessing the Welfare Costs of Household Investment Mistakes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 707-747, October.
    6. Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Lundborg, Petter & Majlesi, Kaveh, 2015. "On the Origins of Risk-Taking," CEPR Discussion Papers 10694, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Adrian Adermon & Mikael Lindahl & Daniel Waldenström, 2018. "Intergenerational Wealth Mobility and the Role of Inheritance: Evidence from Multiple Generations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(612), pages 482-513, July.
    8. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2003. "The Correlation of Wealth across Generations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1155-1182, December.
    9. Henrik Cronqvist & Stephan Siegel, 2015. "The Origins of Savings Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(1), pages 123-169.
    10. 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.
    11. Gregory Clark & Neil Cummins, 2015. "Intergenerational Wealth Mobility in England, 1858–2012: Surnames and Social Mobility," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(582), pages 61-85, February.
    12. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2013. "The origins of intergenerational associations in crime: Lessons from Swedish adoption data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 68-81.
    13. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Petter Lundborg & Kaveh Majlesi, 2017. "On the Origins of Risk-Taking in Financial Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 72(5), pages 2229-2278, October.
    14. Kerwin Charles & Erik Hurst & Alexandra Killewald, 2013. "Marital Sorting and Parental Wealth," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(1), pages 51-70, February.
    15. Barnea, Amir & Cronqvist, Henrik & Siegel, Stephan, 2010. "Nature or nurture: What determines investor behavior?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 583-604, December.
    16. Pence Karen M., 2006. "The Role of Wealth Transformations: An Application to Estimating the Effect of Tax Incentives on Saving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-26, July.
    17. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2011. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 615-651, September.
    18. Cesarini, David & Johannesson, Magnus & Oskarsson, Sven, 2014. "Pre-Birth Factors, Post-Birth Factors, and Voting: Evidence from Swedish Adoption Data," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 71-87, February.
    19. Andreas Fagereng & Magne Mogstad & Marte Rønning, 2015. "Why do wealthy parents have wealthy children?," Discussion Papers 813, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    20. Matthew J. Lindquist & Joeri Sol & Mirjam Van Praag, 2015. "Why Do Entrepreneurial Parents Have Entrepreneurial Children?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 269-296.
    21. Martin Nybom & Jan Stuhler, 2017. "Biases in Standard Measures of Intergenerational Income Dependence," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(3), pages 800-825.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth By: Black, Sandra E. (University of Texas at Austin) ; Devereux, Paul J. (University College Dublin) ; Lundborg, Petter (Lund University) ; Majlesi, Kaveh
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2015-08-17 19:31:43
    2. Poor Little Rich Kids? – The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2015-11-06 23:05:45

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Xu, Yilan & Briley, Daniel A. & Brown, Jeffrey R. & Roberts, Brent W., 2017. "Genetic and environmental influences on household financial distress," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 404-424.
    2. Adrian Adermon & Mikael Lindahl & Daniel Waldenström, 2018. "Intergenerational Wealth Mobility and the Role of Inheritance: Evidence from Multiple Generations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(612), pages 482-513, July.
    3. Christiane Gross & Kerstin Lorek & Friedemann Richter, 2017. "Attitudes towards inheritance taxation – results from a survey experiment," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 15(1), pages 93-112, March.
    4. Guido Neidhöfer, 2019. "Intergenerational mobility and the rise and fall of inequality: Lessons from Latin America," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(4), pages 499-520, December.
    5. Andreas Fagereng & Luigi Guiso & Davide Malacrino & Luigi Pistaferri, 2020. "Heterogeneity and Persistence in Returns to Wealth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(1), pages 115-170, January.
    6. Lindahl, Mikael & Björkegren, Evelina & Palme, Mårten & Simeonova, Emilia, 2016. "Parental Influences on Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees," IZA Discussion Papers 9688, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Simon Halphen Boserup & Wojciech Kopczuk & Claus Thustrup Kreiner, 2018. "Born with a Silver Spoon? Danish Evidence on Wealth Inequality in Childhood," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(612), pages 514-544, July.
    8. Jing You & Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, 2017. "Smoothing or strengthening the ‘Great Gatsby Curve’? The intergenerational impact of China’s New Rural Pension Scheme," WIDER Working Paper Series 199, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Dionissi Aliprantis & Daniel R. Carroll, 2018. "Neighborhood dynamics and the distribution of opportunity," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(1), pages 247-303, March.
    10. Philipp Ager & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2019. "The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War," NBER Working Papers 25700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. M. Shahe Emran & William Greene & Forhad Shilpi, 2018. "When Measure Matters: Coresidency, Truncation Bias, and Intergenerational Mobility in Developing Countries," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 53(3), pages 589-607.
    12. Knüpfer, Samuli & Rantapuska, Elias & Sarvimäki, Matti, 2017. "Why does portfolio choice correlate across generations," Research Discussion Papers 25/2017, Bank of Finland.
    13. Andreas Fagereng & Magne Mogstad & Marte Rønning, 2015. "Why do wealthy parents have wealthy children?," Discussion Papers 813, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    14. Jing You & Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, 2017. "Smoothing or strengthening the 'Great Gatsby curve'?: The intergenerational impact of China's New Rural Pension Scheme," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2017-199, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin, 2017. "Home ownership and social mobility," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 508, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    16. Haile, Getinet Astatike, 2016. "Intergenerational Mobility in Income and Economic Status in Ethiopia," IZA Discussion Papers 10047, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Winfried Koeniger & Julien Prat, 2018. "Human Capital and Optimal Redistribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 1-26, January.
    18. Rauscher, Emily, 2017. "Plastic and Immobile," OSF Preprints cjweu, Center for Open Science.
    19. von Werder, Marten, 2018. "Intergenerational transfers: How do they shape the German wealth distribution?," Discussion Papers 2018/15, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    20. Hällsten, Martin & Pfeffer, Fabian T., 2017. "Grand advantage: family wealth and grandchildren's educational achievement in Sweden," Working Paper Series 2017:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    21. Jing You & Miguel Niño‐Zarazúa, 2019. "The Intergenerational Impact of China's New Rural Pension Scheme," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 45(S1), pages 47-95, December.
    22. Driouchi, Ahmed & Gamar, Alae, 2016. "The Gap between Educational & Social Intergenerational Mobility in Arab Countries," MPRA Paper 73998, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intergenerational mobility; nature versus nurture; portfolio allocation;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9227. 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: (Holger Hinte). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.