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Wealth inequality in Europe and the delusive egalitarianism of Scandinavian countries

  • Skopek, Nora
  • Buchholz, Sandra
  • Blossfeld, Hans-Peter

Past sociological inequality research focused on (labor) market outcomes, while neglecting the even more important role of wealth. In our study we investigate the distribution of wealth among the elderly across Europe within the framework of Esping-Andersen’s typology of welfare states. Using SHARE data, our analyses suggest (1) that there is strong variation in the distribution of wealth between European countries, and (2) that patterns of wealth inequality differ strongly from patterns of income inequality. Surprisingly high levels of wealth disparity were found in the social democratic welfare regimes commonly known as very egalitarian societies. We conclude that Esping-Andersen’s scheme requires reconsideration because it is based on a one-sided understanding of social stratification not accounting for the central role of wealth in the stratification process.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 35307.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35307
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  1. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
  2. Leimer, Dean R & Lesnoy, Selig D, 1982. "Social Security and Private Saving: New Time-Series Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 606-29, June.
  3. Andrea Brandolini & Luigi Cannari & Giovanni D’Alessio & Ivan Faiella, 2006. "Household Wealth Distribution in Italy in the 1990s," Chapters, in: International Perspectives on Household Wealth, chapter 7 Edward Elgar.
  4. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005, July.
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  9. Brozozowski, Matthew & Gervais, Martin & Klein, Paul & Suzuki, Micho, 2009. "Consumption, income, and wealth inequality in Canada," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0904, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  10. Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka, 2009. "Wealth Inequality on the Rise in Germany," Weekly Report, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 5(10), pages 62-73.
  11. Dimitrios Christelis & Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula, 2005. "Wealth and Portfolio Composition," CSEF Working Papers 132, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  12. David Henderson & Robert M McNab & Tamas Rozsas, 2004. "The Hidden Inequality In Socialism," Development and Comp Systems 0411012, EconWPA.
  13. Dimitrios Christelis, 2011. "Imputation of Missing Data in Waves 1 and 2 of SHARE," CSEF Working Papers 278, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  14. Papatheodorou, Christos & Pavlopoulos, Dimitris, 2003. "Accounting for inequality in the EU: Income disparities between and within member states and overall income inequality," MPRA Paper 209, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Markus M. Grabka, 2000. "Einkommensverteilung in Deutschland: stärkere Umverteilungseffekte in Ostdeutschland," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 67(19), pages 291-297.
  16. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1990. " The Distribution of Wealth: Measurement and Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 329-60.
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