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Secular Changes in Wealth Inequality and Inheritance

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  • John Laitner

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Data suggest the distribution of wealth among households in the United States and the United Kingdom has become more equal over the last century — though the pattern may have reversed recently. This paper shows that a model in which all households save for life–cycle reasons and some for dynastic purposes as well offers a possible explanation: the model predicts rising cross–sectional equality of wealth when longevity increases. In terms of recent changes, the model suggests that expansion of social security programs and government debt can lead toward more wealth inequality, and that slower growth may do the same.

Suggested Citation

  • John Laitner, 2001. "Secular Changes in Wealth Inequality and Inheritance," Working Papers wp020, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp020
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    1. repec:red:issued:16-340 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. John Laitner & Dan Silverman, 2005. "Estimating Life-Cycle Parameters from Consumption Behavior at Retirement," NBER Working Papers 11163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Graziella Bertocchi, 2011. "The Vanishing Bequest Tax: The Comparative Evolution Of Bequest Taxation In Historical Perspective," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 107-131, March.
    4. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella, 2017. "Saving and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 280-300, October.
    5. Piketty, Thomas & Zucman, Gabriel, 2014. "Wealth and Inheritance in the Long Run," CEPR Discussion Papers 10072, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Klass, Oren S. & Biham, Ofer & Levy, Moshe & Malcai, Ofer & Solomon, Sorin, 2006. "The Forbes 400 and the Pareto wealth distribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 290-295, February.
    7. John Laitner, 2003. "Labor Supply Responses to Social Security," Working Papers wp050, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Matthias Doepke & Martin Schneider, 2005. "Real effects of inflation through the redistribution of nominal wealth," Staff Report 355, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Facundo Alvaredo & Bertrand Garbinti & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "On the Share of Inheritance in Aggregate Wealth: Europe and the USA, 1900–2010," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 239-260, April.
    10. Matthias Doepke, "undated". "Inflation as a Redistribution Shock: Effects on Aggregates and Welfare," UCLA Economics Online Papers 412, UCLA Department of Economics.
    11. repec:spr:blkpoe:v:44:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12114-017-9259-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Cagetti, Marco & De Nardi, Mariacristina, 2008. "Wealth Inequality: Data And Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 285-313, September.
    13. Mauro Baranzini, 2005. "Modigliani's life-cycle theory of savings fifty years later," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 109-172.
    14. Christopher House & John Laitner & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2008. "Valuing Lost Home Production Of Dual Earner Couples," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 701-736, May.
    15. John Laitner, 2002. "Transition Paths and Social Security Reform," Working Papers wp025, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    16. Pierre Pestieau & Emmanuel Thibault, 2012. "Love thy children or money," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 50(1), pages 31-57, May.
    17. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2015. "Quantitative Models of Wealth Inequality: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 21106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2002. "Fiscal policy with agents differing in altruism and in ability," CORE Discussion Papers 2002049, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    19. Emmanuel Thibault, 2017. "Is GDP a Relevant Social Welfare Indicator? A Savers–Spenders Theory Approach," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 333-351, September.
    20. Mauro Baranzini, 2005. "Modigliani's life-cycle theory of savings fifty years later," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 109-172.
    21. John Laitner & Daniel Silverman, 2006. "Consumption, Retirement, and Social Security: Evaluating the Efficiency of Reform with a Life-Cycle Model," Working Papers wp142, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    22. Fiaschi, Davide & Marsili, Matteo, 2012. "Distribution of wealth and incomplete markets: Theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 243-267.
    23. John Laitner, 2001. "Wealth Accumulation in the U.S.: Do Inheritances and Bequests Play a Significant Role?," Working Papers wp019, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    24. John Laitner, 2001. "Modeling the Macroeconomic Implications of Social Security Reform," Working Papers wp015, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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