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Overview and details of the sessions of this online conference.

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Session Overview
D05: Wealth Inequality and Wealth Taxation
Thursday, 19/Aug/2021:
10:45am - 12:15pm

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10:45am - 11:07am

Wealth Inequality in the US: the Role of Heterogeneous Returns

Ines Martins Xavier

Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Why is wealth so concentrated in the United States? In this paper, I investigate the role of return heterogeneity as a source of wealth inequality. Using household-level data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (1989-2019), I provide new empirical evidence on returns to wealth in the United States, and find that wealthier households earn, on average, higher returns: moving from the 20th to the 99th percentile of the wealth distribution raises the average yearly return from 3.6% to 8.3%. To understand how these return differences shape the distribution of wealth, I introduce realistic return heterogeneity in a partial equilibrium model of household saving behavior. This exercise suggests that considering both earnings and return heterogeneity can fully account for the top 10% wealth share observed in the data (76%), which cannot be explained by earnings differences alone.

Xavier-Wealth Inequality in the US-390.pdf

11:07am - 11:30am

Wealth Taxation and Household Saving: Evidence from Assessment Discontinuities in Norway

Marius A. K. Ring1,2

1University of Texas at Austin, McCombs; 2Statistics Norway, Research Department

I use a quasi-experiment in Norway to examine how households respond to capital taxation. The introduction of a new wealth assessment methodology in 2010 led to geographic discontinuities in household exposure to wealth taxes, along both the extensive and intensive margins. I exploit this novel variation using a Boundary Discontinuity approach. I find that exposure to wealth taxes has a positive effect on both saving and labor earnings. These responses are the combination of small negative effects of increasing the marginal tax rates on wealth and relatively larger positive effects of increasing average tax rates. These results imply that income effects may dominate substitution effects in household responses to rate of return shocks, which has important implications for both optimal capital taxation and macroeconomic modeling.

Ring-Wealth Taxation and Household Saving-145.pdf

11:30am - 11:52am

Monetary Policy and Racial Inequality

Alina Kristin Bartscher1, Moritz Kuhn1, Moritz Schularick1, Paul Wachtel2

1University of Bonn, Germany; 2New York University Stern School of Business

This paper aims at an improved understanding of the relationship between monetary policy and racial inequality. We investigate the distributional effects of monetary policy in a unified framework, linking monetary policy shocks both to earnings and wealth differentials between black and white households. Specifically, we show that, although a more accommodative monetary policy increases employment of black households more than for white households, the overall effects are small. At the same time, an accommodative monetary policy shock exacerbates the wealth difference between black and white households, because black households own fewer financial assets that appreciate in value. Over a five-year horizon, the employment effects remain substantially smaller than the countervailing portfolio effects.

Bartscher-Monetary Policy and Racial Inequality-171.pdf

11:52am - 12:15pm

Distributional Financial Accounts in Europe, 1995-2018

Thomas Blanchet1, Clara Martinez-Toledano2

1Paris School of Economics, France; 2Imperial College Business School, United Kingdom

This study presents the first Europe-wide data set of distributional financial accounts from 1995 until 2018. Combining and harmonizing national accounts, individual tax records and wealth surveys, we build wealth distribution series and their asset decomposition ensuring 100% consistency with the UN System of National Accounts. Our estimates cover a longer time frame and are better at capturing the top of the wealth distribution than existing survey-based series. This new data set can be useful to better understand the drivers of wealth accumulation and wealth inequality, including the distributional implications of fiscal and monetary policy.

Blanchet-Distributional Financial Accounts in Europe, 1995-2018-308.pdf

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