Do the Sons of Rich Families Recover After a Large Wealth Shock? Evidence From the US Civil War

One striking feature of many underdeveloped societies is that economic power is concentrated in the hands of very small powerful elites. Why is it the case that some elites show remarkable persistence and even retain their power after major economic disruptions, like civil wars or democratization? The fortune of wealthy white southern households and their sons after the American Civil War is one such case in point.  

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Wealth Inequality in America: A Race Between the Stock and the Housing Market

Booming stock markets and the collapse of house prices in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis have increased wealth inequality in the US to a new historical high. Meanwhile, the racial wealth gap has stayed put for over 70 years, with virtually no progress in reducing wealth inequality between black and white households.  

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How Finance Affects Income Inequality

There is mounting evidence that income inequality and disparities in wealth have been rising in advanced economies in the recent decades. Using data on advanced and emerging economies, this column investigates the link between an economy’s financial structure—that is, the mix of bank-provided versus market-provided funds—and income inequality. Results show that the relationship is not monotonic. More finance reduces income inequality up to a point, but beyond that point inequality rises, especially if finance is expanded via market-based financing.    

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