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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bettina Brueggemann, 2016. "Higher Taxes at the Top: The Role of Entrepreneurs," 2016 Meeting Papers 332, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Fella Giulio & Fang Yang & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2016. "Piketty’s Book and Macro Models of Wealth Inequality," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    3. repec:red:issued:18-528 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bastani, Spencer & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "How Should Capital Be Taxed? Theory and Evidence from Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 11475, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. repec:spr:joecin:v:16:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10888-018-9391-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Joanna Tyrowicz & Krzysztof Makarski & Marcin Bielecki, 2018. "Inequality in an OLG economy with heterogeneous cohorts and pension systems," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(4), pages 583-606, December.
    7. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2015. "Estimating the Intergenerational Elasticity and Rank Association in the U.S.: Overcoming the Current Limitations of Tax Data," Working Paper Series WP-2015-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, revised 01 Jun 2015.
    8. repec:spr:joecth:v:67:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s00199-017-1091-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:dyncon:v:90:y:2018:i:c:p:45-75 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Julian Kozlowski & Diego Daruich, 2016. "Explaining Income Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility: The Role of Fertility and Family Transfers," 2016 Meeting Papers 665, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2015. "Quantitative Models of Wealth Inequality: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 21106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Pham-Dao, Lien, 2016. "Public Insurance and Wealth Inequality - A Euro Area Analysis," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145942, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Winfried Koeniger & Julien Prat, 2018. "Human Capital and Optimal Redistribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 1-26, January.
    14. Nawid Siassi, 2019. "Inequality and the Marriage Gap," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 31, pages 160-181, January.
    15. Burkhard Heer & Christian Scharrer, 2016. "The Burden of Unanticipated Government Spending," CESifo Working Paper Series 5876, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Kaymak, Barış & Poschke, Markus, 2016. "The evolution of wealth inequality over half a century: The role of taxes, transfers and technology," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 1-25.
    17. Zhao, Kai, 2017. "Social insurance, private health insurance and individual welfare," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 102-117.
    18. repec:red:issued:16-340 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. 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.
    20. Aaron Cooke & Hyun Lee & Kai Zhao, 2017. "Houses Divided: A Model of Intergenerational Transfers, Differential Fertility and Wealth Inequality," Working papers 2017-22, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    21. Diego Daruich & Julian Kozlowski, . "Explaining Intergenerational Mobility: The Role of Fertility and Family Transfers," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    22. Raphael Schoenle & Kristian Ove Myrseth & Rawley Heimer, 2016. "YOLO: Mortality Beliefs and Household Finance Puzzles," 2016 Meeting Papers 661, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    23. Scharrer, Christian & Heer, Burkhard, 2016. "The Burden of Unanticipated Fiscal Policy," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145542, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    24. Rawley Z. Heimer & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Raphael S. Schoenle, 2015. "YOLO: Mortality Beliefs and Household Finance Puzzles," Working Papers 97, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.

    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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