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Wealth Inequality, Family Background, and Estate Taxation

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  • Mariacristina De Nardi
  • Fang Yang

Abstract

This paper generates two main contributions. First, it provides a new theory of wealth inequality that merges two empirically relevant forces generating inequality: bequest motives and inheritance of ability across generations; and an earnings process that allows for more earnings risk for the richest. Second, it uses the resulting calibrated framework to study the effects of changing estate taxation. Increasing the estate tax reduces the wealth concentration in the hands of the richest few and the economic advantage of being born to a rich and super-rich family, at the cost of reduced aggregate capital and output. However, all of these effects are quite small. In contrast, increasing estate taxation can generate a significant welfare gain to a newborn under the veil of ignorance, but this comes at a large welfare cost for the super-rich.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariacristina De Nardi & Fang Yang, 2015. "Wealth Inequality, Family Background, and Estate Taxation," NBER Working Papers 21047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21047
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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