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Project Citation: 

Pfeffer, Fabian, University of Michigan, Killewald, Alexandra, and Harvard University. Generations Of Advantage. Multigenerational Correlations in Family Wealth. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2017-10-20.

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Project Description

Summary:  View help for Summary Inequality in family wealth is high, yet we know little about how much and how wealth inequality is maintained across generations. We argue that a long-term perspective reflective of wealth’s cumulative nature is crucial to understand the extent and channels of wealth reproduction across generations. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics that span nearly half a century, we show that a one decile increase in parental wealth position is associated with an increase of about 4 percentiles in offspring wealth position in adulthood. We show that grandparental wealth is a unique predictor of grandchildren’s wealth, above and beyond the role of parental wealth, suggesting that a focus on only parent-child dyads understates the importance of family wealth lineages. Second, considering five channels of wealth transmission — gifts and bequests, education, marriage, homeownership, and business ownership — we find that most of the advantages arising from family wealth begin much earlier in the life-course than the common focus on bequests implies, even when we consider the wealth of grandparents. We also document the stark disadvantage of African-American households in terms of not only their wealth attainment but also their intergenerational downward wealth mobility compared to whites.
Funding Sources:  View help for Funding Sources Russell Sage Foundation; W. K. Kellogg Foundation; National Institutes of Health (R01 HD069609); National Science Foundation (1157698)

Scope of Project

Subject Terms:  View help for Subject Terms PSID
Geographic Coverage:  View help for Geographic Coverage United States
Time Period(s):  View help for Time Period(s) 1968 – 2015

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V1 [2017-10-20]

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