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Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?

  • Mathias Sommer

    ()

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

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    Rising inequality in income, wealth and consumption has received a good deal of public attention in the past years. At the same time, also macroeconomists are more and more interested in inequality as they have expanded their models to incorporate heterogeneity in the household sector. We supply these models with empirical benchmarks for their calibration and contribute to the understanding of the reasons underlying the trends in inequality. Specifically, we employ a variance decomposition and estimate life-cycle profiles of inequality in income, consumption and wealth based on two measures of inequality. We deepen the discussion on wealth inequality by evaluating the relative importance of savings, portfolio choice and inheritances for the accumulation of wealth. To do so, we project active and passive savings based on the observed saving and investment behavior of synthetic cohorts from the German Income and Expenditure Survey (EVS).

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    Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 08160.

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    Date of creation: 03 Sep 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:08160
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    1. Huggett, Mark & Ventura, Gustavo & Yaron, Amir, 2006. "Human capital and earnings distribution dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 265-290, March.
    2. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2007. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," NBER Working Papers 13224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Weber, Andrea Maria & Ammermüller, Andreas, 2003. "Education and Wage Inequality in Germany: A Review of the Empirical Literature," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-29, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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    7. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
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    13. Hendricks, Lutz, 2007. "How important is discount rate heterogeneity for wealth inequality?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 3042-3068, September.
    14. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2007. "From Bottom to Top: The Entire Distribution of Market Income in Germany, 1992 - 2001," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 683, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    15. Nancy A. Jianakoplos & Paul L. Menchik, 1997. "Wealth Mobility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(1), pages 18-31, February.
    16. Biewen, Martin, 2000. "Income Inequality in Germany during the 1980s and 1990s," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 1-19, March.
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    18. Axel Börsch-Supan & Anette Reil-Held & Daniel Schunk, 2006. "Das Sparverhalten deutscher Haushalte: Erste Erfahrungen mit der Riester-Rente," MEA discussion paper series 06114, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
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