The Distribution of Wealth in Some Contemporary Economies

Henry Phelps Brown

in Egalitarianism and the Generation of Inequality

Published in print November 1988 | ISBN: 9780198286486
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596773 | DOI:
 The Distribution of Wealth in Some Contemporary Economies

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The first section of the chapter summarizes the arguments of R. H. Tawney and C. A. R. Crosland against great (inherited) wealth––as opposed to great earnings (income)––and confronts the paradox that although inequalities of wealth are much greater than those of earnings, the removal of this wealth would not much reduce inequality. However, since the possession of wealth is regarded as conferring power and status as well as income, there is reason to proceed with enquiry into its distribution. The answers to this enquiry are presented in three further sections. These discuss the limited sources of knowledge of wealth, contrast the distribution of wealth in the UK with that of income, and provide international comparisons of the distribution of wealth between the UK, USA, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland. Differences between the UK and USA are discussed in terms of age distribution, house ownership, and inheritance (and savings).

Keywords: age distribution; Canada; C. A. R. Crosland; earnings; house ownership; income distribution; inequality; inheritance; inherited wealth; Republic of Ireland; savings; R. H. Tawney; UK; USA; wealth distribution

Chapter.  7880 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Economics

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