Brian Nolan, Juan C. Palomino, Philippe Van Kerm, Salvatore Morelli, 19 September 2020

Whether and how much intergenerational transfers contribute to wealth inequality is still subject to debate. This column analyses household survey data on inheritance and gifts inter vivos in France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the US to relate current household wealth levels and inequality to the receipt of intergenerational wealth transfers. In these countries, large transfers increase overall wealth inequality. Strengthening taxation capacity and instating lifetime capital acquisitions tax for gifts and inheritances may help counter the dis-equalising effect of intergenerational transfers.

Simon Boserup, Wojciech Kopczuk, Claus Thustrup Kreiner, 11 March 2016

It is often suggested that intergenerational bequests such as inheritances create and perpetuate wealth inequality. This column uses Danish data to explore the effects of bequests on the wealth distribution. While bequests are found to increase the dispersion of absolute wealth inequality, relative inequality declines. These findings suggest that inheritance alone need not increase wealth inequality.

Mariacristina De Nardi, 11 July 2015

Wealth inequality is back in the spotlight, but its determinants and the saving behaviour generating it are less clear. This column discusses the mechanisms in dynamic quantitative macro models that give rise to wealth inequality. Different mechanisms give rise to similar observed wealth concentrations, but have very different policy implications. A combination of better empirical analysis and richer models is needed to guide policy.

Marco Francesconi, Robert Pollak, Domenico Tabasso, 23 May 2015

Bequests have important economic and social consequences. Using a large sample drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, this column documents two results. First, about a third of US parents with wills plan to distribute their estates unequally among their children. This is especially common among families with stepchildren and children with whom the parent has little contact. Second, about 40% of parents die without wills.

Tullio Jappelli, Mario Padula, Giovanni Pica, 26 February 2010

What are the effects of inheritance tax on bequests and tax avoidance? This column examines data from Italy suggesting that the abolition of transfer taxes increased real estate inheritance by around 2 percentage points. Given that the ratio of real estate to total wealth exceeds 85% for the over 60s in Italy, it is likely that at least part of this increase is a genuine effect.

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