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Women, Wealth and Mobility

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  • Lena Edlund
  • Wojciech Kopczuk

Abstract

The extent of and changes in inter-generational mobility of wealth are central to understanding dynamics of wealth inequality but hard to measure. Using estate tax returns data, we observe that the share of women among the very wealthy (top 0.01%) in the United States peaked in the late 1960s, reaching almost 50%. Three decades on, women's share had declined to one third, a return to pre-war levels. We argue that this pattern mirrors the relative importance of inherited vs. self-made wealth in the economy and thus the gender-composition of the wealthiest may serve as a proxy for inter-generational wealth mobility. This proxy for "dynastic wealth'' suggests that wealth mobility in the past century decreased until the 1970s and rose thereafter, a pattern consistent with technological change driving long term trends in income inequality and mobility. Greater wealth mobility in recent decades is also consistent with the simultaneous rise in top income shares and relatively stable wealth concentration.

Suggested Citation

  • Lena Edlund & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Women, Wealth and Mobility," NBER Working Papers 13162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13162
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld02-1, May.
    2. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Bequest and Tax Planning: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1801-1854.
    3. Martin S. Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Introduction to "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 1-10, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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