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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, January.
    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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. GRABKA Markus & MARCUS Jan & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2013. "Wealth distribution within couples and financial decision making," LISER Working Paper Series 2013-02, LISER.
    2. 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.
    3. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2007. "Uncovering the American Dream: Inequality and Mobility in Social Security Earnings Data since 1937," NBER Working Papers 13345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. A.B. Atkinson & A. Casarico & S. Voitchovsky, 2016. "Top Incomes and the Gender Divide," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n27, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    5. 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.
    6. Sierminska, Eva M. & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 669-690.
    7. Grabka, Markus M. & Marcus, Jan & Sierminska, Eva, 2015. "Wealth Distribution within Couples," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 459-486.
    8. Sierminska, Eva & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2008. "Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden – A combination of equal opportunity and capitalistic dynasties," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 705, Stockholm School of Economics.
    10. Thomas Piketty, 2011. "On the Long-Run Evolution of Inheritance: France 1820--2050," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1071-1131.
    11. Frank A. Cowell & Philippe Kerm, 2015. "Wealth Inequality: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 671-710, September.
    12. Schneebaum, Alyssa & Rehm, Miriam & Mader, Katharina & Hollan, Katarina, 2016. "The Gender Wealth Gap Across European Countries," Department of Economics Working Paper Series 5175, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    13. Fortin, Nicole M. & Bell, Brian & Böhm, Michael, 2017. "Top earnings inequality and the gender pay gap: Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 107-123.
    14. Sommer, Mathias, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," Papers 08-12, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    15. Korom, Philipp & Lutter, Mark & Beckert, Jens, 2015. "The enduring importance of family wealth: Evidence from the Forbes 400, 1982 to 2013," MPIfG Discussion Paper 15/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    16. Mathias Sommer, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," MEA discussion paper series 08160, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

    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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