Wealth inequality and intergenerational links

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Abstract

Previous work has had difficulty generating household saving behaviour that makes the distribution of wealth much more concentrated than that of labour earnings, and that makes the richest households hold onto large amounts of wealth, even during very old age. I construct a quantitative, general equilibrium, overlapping-generations model in which parents and children are linked by accidental and voluntary bequests and by earnings ability. I show that voluntary bequests can explain the emergence of large estates, while accidental bequests alone cannot, and that adding earnings persistence within families increases wealth concentration even more. I also show that the introduction of a bequest motive generates lifetime savings profiles more consistent with the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-768
Number of pages26
JournalReview of Economic Studies
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

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