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Wealth Inequality and the Wealth of Cohorts

Publication Date:
Jan 2003
Project Programs:
Social Inequality

My first objective in this paper is to present new evidence on the evolution of wealth inequality between 1962, when the first large-scale microdata survey of American’s wealth holdings was conducted, and 2001, the date of the most recent wealth survey. My second objective in this paper is to illustrate how the wealth of typical families evolves by examining how the wealth of specific cohorts evolves. My focus on the evolution of wealth across cohorts leads me to be skeptical of the
proposition that Americans are in more fragile financial shape in the late 1990s than they were a decade earlier. But, there still may be good reasons to be concerned about wealth inequality. I briefly discuss three of these in the third section of the paper.

The Russell Sage Foundation
Journal of the Social Sciences

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