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Wealth and the Capitalist Spirit

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  • Francis, Johanna L.

Abstract

The wealth distribution in the U.S. is more unequal, or skewed to the right, than either the income or earnings distribution, a fact current models of saving behavior have difficulty explaining. Using Max Weber's (1905) idea that individuals may have a `capitalist spirit', I construct and simulate a model where some individuals accumulate wealth for its own sake rather than as deferred consumption. Including capitalist-spirit preferences in the standard life cycle model, with no other modifications, generates a skewness of wealth consistent with that observed in the U.S. economy. Furthermore, capitalist-spirit preferences provide a way to generate decreasing risk aversion with increases in wealth without resorting to idiosyncratic rates of time preference.

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  • Francis, Johanna L., 2007. "Wealth and the Capitalist Spirit," MPRA Paper 5985, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5985
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    Cited by:

    1. Karnizova, Lilia, 2010. "The spirit of capitalism and expectation-driven business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 739-752, September.
    2. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2012. "Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 18584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michael Kumhof & Romain Rancière & Pablo Winant, 2015. "Inequality, Leverage, and Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1217-1245, March.
    4. Rannenberg, Ansgar, 2017. "The effect of fiscal policy and forward guidance with preferences over wealth," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168070, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Jizheng Huang & Heng-fu Zou, 2011. "Asset pricing and the Modigliani-Miller theorem with the spirit of capitalism," CEMA Working Papers 456, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    6. Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2015. "The Optimal Use of Government Purchases for Stabilization," NBER Working Papers 21322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mehmet Özer & Çağrı Sağlam, 2016. "Strategic Interaction And Catching Up," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 168-181, April.
    8. Tokuoka, Kiichi, 2012. "Is wealth accumulation a luxury good?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 523-526.
    9. Mario Amendola & Jean Luc Gaffard & Fabrizio Patriarca, 2015. "Inequality and Growth : the perverse relation between the productivity and the non-productive assets of the economy," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2015-28, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    10. Jizheng Huang & Heng-fu Zou, 2013. "Asset Pricing, Capital Structure and the Spirit of Capitalism in a Production Economy," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 367-384, November.
    11. Sağlam Çağri & Turan Agah & Turan Hamide, 2014. "Saddle-node bifurcations in an optimal growth model with preferences for wealth habit," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 18(2), pages 1-12, April.
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    13. Mario Amendola & Jean-Luc Gaffard & Fabrizio Patriarca, 2017. "Inequality and growth: the perverse relation between the productive and the non-productive assets of the economy," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 531-554, July.
    14. repec:cuf:journl:y:2013:v:14:i:1:n:3:huang is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Juin-jen Chang & Chia-ying Liu & Hsiao-wen Hung, 2013. "Does Performance-Based Compensation Boost Economic Growth or Lead to More Income Inequality?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(284), pages 72-82, March.
    16. Thomas Goda, 2014. "Global trends in relative and absolute wealth concentrations," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF 010897, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
    17. Michael Kumhof & Romain Ranciere & Pablo Winant, 2013. "Inequality, Leverage and Crises; The Case of Endogenous Default," IMF Working Papers 13/249, International Monetary Fund.
    18. Davoine, Thomas, 2012. "Time constraints, saving and old age," Economics Working Paper Series 1221, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capitalist spirit; life cycle; wealth;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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