Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Book
Title Women, wealth and mobility
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
Publisher National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge, Mass., USA
URL http://www.piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/EdlundKopczukAER2009.pdf
The extent of and changes in inter-generational mobility of wealth are central to understanding
dynamics of wealth inequality but hard to measure. Using estate tax returns data,
we observe that the share of women among the very wealthy (top 0.01%) in the United States
peaked in the late 1960s, reaching almost 50%. Three decades on, women’s share had declined
to one third, a return to pre-war levels. We argue that this pattern mirrors the relative importance
of inherited vs. self-made wealth in the economy and thus the gender-composition
of the wealthiest may serve as a proxy for inter-generational wealth mobility. This proxy for
“dynastic wealth” suggests that wealth mobility in the past century decreased until the 1970s
and rose thereafter, a pattern consistent with technological change driving long term trends in
income inequality and mobility. Greater wealth mobility in recent decades is also consistent
with the simultaneous rise in top income shares and relatively stable wealth concentration.

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