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Department of Economics, Uppsala University Working Paper Series, Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies, Department of Economics, Uppsala University

No 2015:3:
Inheritance and wealth inequality: Evidence from population registers

Mikael Elinder (), Oscar Erixson () and Daniel Waldenström ()

Abstract: This study estimates the effect of inheriting wealth on inequality and mobility in the wealth distribution. Using new population-wide register data on inheritances in Sweden, we find that inheritances reduce inequality and increase mobility among heirs. Richer heirs indeed inherit larger amounts, but less affluent heirs receive substantially larger inheritances relative to their pre-inheritance wealth than do richer heirs. The Swedish inheritance tax had a small overall impact but appears to have mitigated the equalizing effect of inheritances. We also investigate the potentially confounding role of pre-inheritance gifts and behavioral responses to expectations about future inheritances, but neither of them change the main finding that inheritances reduce wealth inequality.

Keywords: bequest; estate; net worth; inheritance taxation; wealth distribution; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D63; E21; H24; (follow links to similar papers)

48 pages, June 26, 2015

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