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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. Matthew Brzozowski & Martin Gervais & Paul Klein & Michio Suzuki, 2010. "Consumption, Income, and Wealth Inequality in Canada," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 52-75, January.
  2. 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.
  3. Riphahn, Regina T. & Serfling, Oliver, 2002. "Item Non-Response on Income and Wealth Questions," IZA Discussion Papers 573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Andrea Brandolini & Giovanni D’Alessio & Luigi Cannari & Ivan Faiella, 2004. "Household Wealth Distribution in Italy in the 1990s," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_414, Levy Economics Institute.
  5. David Henderson & Robert M McNab & Tamas Rozsas, 2004. "The Hidden Inequality In Socialism," Development and Comp Systems 0411012, EconWPA.
  6. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005, March.
  7. Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2007. "Wealth Concentration over the Path of Development: Sweden, 1873–2006," Working Paper Series 722, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 13 Jun 2008.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Kessler, Denis & Wolff, Edward N, 1991. "A Comparative Analysis of Household Wealth Patterns in France and the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(3), pages 249-66, September.
  11. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1990. " The Distribution of Wealth: Measurement and Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 329-60.
  12. 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.
  13. Iris Claus & Grant Scobie, 2001. "Household Net Wealth: An International Comparison," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/19, New Zealand Treasury.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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