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Women, Wealth, and Mobility

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Abstract:

Using estate tax returns data, we observe that the share of women among the very wealthy in the United States peaked in the late 1960s at nearly one-half and then declined to one-third. We argue that this pattern reflects changes in the importance of dynastic wealth, with the share of women proxying for inherited wealth. If so, wealth mobility decreased until the 1970s and rose thereafter. Such an interpretation is consistent with technological change driving long-term trends in mobility and inequality, as well as the recent divergence between top wealth and top income shares documented elsewhere.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/aer.99.1.146

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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