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On the Share of Inheritance in Aggregate Wealth: Europe and the USA, 1900–2010

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Economica / NEW SERIES

Published online on


This paper provides historical series on the evolution of the share of inherited wealth in aggregate private wealth in Europe (France, the UK, Germany, Sweden) and the USA over the 1900–2010 period. Until 1910, the inheritance share was very high in Europe (70–80%). It then fell abruptly following the 1914–45 shocks, down to about 30–40% during the 1950–80 period, and is back to 50–60% (and rising) since around 2010. The US pattern also appears to be U‐shaped, albeit less marked, and with significant uncertainty regarding recent trends, due to data limitations. We discuss possible interpretations for these long‐run patterns.