Wealth Inequality: Opportunity or Unfairness?
46 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2021 Last revised: 13 Feb 2023
Date Written: February 10, 2023
This paper presents evidence for a new propagation mechanism of wealth inequality. Motivated by cross-country survey evidence, it uses unique administrative microdata and a quasi-field experiment of exogenous assignment to test the hypothesis that, in the presence of significant opportunities for wealth mobility, the more educated respond to greater wealth inequality at the start of economic life by taking more financial, real, and self-employment risks and achieving higher wealth, thereby propagating wealth inequality. We find no evidence for alternative channels of propagation through labor income, unemployment risk, or human capital investment, nor for inspiration, imitation, or learning from the rich.
Keywords: Household finance, wealth inequality, propagation of inequality, education, opportunity, refugees.
JEL Classification: G5, E21, E44, D31, D1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation