The Multidimensional Aspects of Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth and Poverty in the Long Run: France, 1820-1960

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:45 AM
Room: 419
Distributed Paper
Jérôme BOURDIEU , Paris School of Economics and EHESS, Paris, France
Lionel KESZTENBAUM , Populations and history, INED, Paris, France
Gilles POSTEL-VINAY , EHESS and Paris School of Economics, Paris, France
Akiko SUWA , Paris School of Economics and EHESS, Paris, France
There are only few, if any, studies of inequality in the long run even though it is widely acknowledged that intergenerational mobility fluctuates a lot. At the same time very few studies explore the way different kinds of capital are transmitted between generations. We take advantage of a large genealogical sample (we have detailed data on wealth at death, education, occupation, and mortality for fathers and their children over a century and half) to study the transmission of different form of assets in France in the long run. The period under study is characterized by major structural changes–industrialization, expansion of wage labor, self-growing professional women–as well as by economic and political shocks. All these changes have deep and lasting effects on wealth structure, on the return of various kinds of wealth and portfolios, and on the relative importance of different types of capital.

We will address the question of the effect on individuals of a given generation of receiving capital from the previous generation. First, we will consider the transmission of material wealth, studying those who get any wealth versus those who get nothing before looking at the amount of inherited wealth. Second, we will take into account the composition of the inherited wealth (real estate, financial assets or working material for instance). In particular, we aim at differentiating the effect of transmission as a whole–or transmission of any type of wealth–from the transmission of particular goods (for instance any kind of land versus the one the individual has worked on with his father since his youth). Third, we will consider non-material inheritance–mainly education and occupation–and its interactions with wealth. We will investigate if other types of capital compensate the absence, or the scarcity, of wealth or if, conversely, inequalities are cumulative.