Wealth and Opportunity

Wealth (net worth) is distributed much more unequally than any other dimension of socioeconomic well-being. I document this inequality as it differs across time and countries:

  • Wealth Disparities Before and After the Great Recession (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, link)
  • Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession” (Russell Sage Foundation Research Brief, link)
  • How Wealth Shapes Our Future (Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, forthcoming)
  • Wealth Distribution and Wealth Mobility in U.S.-German comparison (working paper)

This stark inequality in wealth can be shown to be tied to inequalities in attainment opportunities for the next generation. I attempt to uncover the causal mechanisms behind these intergenerational wealth effects through both cross-national and within-country analyses. In particular, I seek empirical evidence for what I call the “insurance function” of wealth.

  • Wealth and Mobility Regimes. The United States, Germany, and Sweden in Comparison (working paper)
  • Status Attainment and Wealth in the United States and Germany (chapter in Persistence, Privilege, and Parenting. The Comparative Study of Intergenerational Mobility, link)
  • Growing Wealth Gaps in Education (working paper)
  • Intergenerational Transfers and the Concentration of Wealth within Family Lineages (working paper)

When studying the intergenerational role of wealth it may be particularly important to extend the view beyond the parent-child relationship and consider transmission processes across more generations and extended family networks:

  • How Rigid is the Wealth Structure and Why? Inter- and Multigenerational Correlations in Wealth (working paper)
  • Family Wealth and Children’s Educational Outcomes in Sweden (working paper)
  • Does Donald Need Uncle Scrooge? Extended-family wealth and children’s educational attainment in the United States (forthcoming paper)

Wealth may also provide an important safety net for intragenerational mobility by buffering adverse shocks to economic well-being. An ongoing project investigates whether wealth attenuates the income scarring effects of unemployment and does so differently across institutional contexts.

  • Wealth and unemployment in comparative perspective (in progress)