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Are we still modern? Inheritance law and the broken promise of the enlightenment


  • Beckert, Jens


The regulation of the transfer of property mortis causa has been a major concern of social reformers since the Enlightenment. Today, by contrast, the issue of the bequest of wealth from generation to generation stirs hardly any political controversy. Since the mid-twentieth century the topic has lost much of its earlier significance in public debates. In this working paper I show that over the last forty years we can observe a backlash in key areas of inheritance law which breaks the Enlightenment's promise to distribute wealth in society based on individual achievement rather than ascriptive criteria. Hence the question: 'Are we still modern?'

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  • Beckert, Jens, 2010. "Are we still modern? Inheritance law and the broken promise of the enlightenment," MPIfG Working Paper 10/7, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:107

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    1. Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgässner, Gebhard, 1995. "Fiskalischer Wettbewerb in der EU: Wird der Wohlfahrtsstaat zusammenbrechen?," Wirtschaftsdienst – Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik (1949 - 2007), ZBW – German National Library of Economics / Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 75(10), pages 562-568.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barbara E. Hopkins, 2013. "Gender and provisioning under different capitalisms," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 7, pages 93-112 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2015. "Policy preferences for inheritance taxation," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201531, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    3. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2016. "Should wealth transfers be taxed? Citizens’ view on a fundamental question," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201636, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. Peters, Heiko & Schwarz, Peter, 2013. "Bequests and labor supply in Germany," TranState Working Papers 173, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.

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