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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 3 (May 2013)

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Family, Education, and Sources of Wealth among the Richest Americans, 1982-2012

Article Citation

Kaplan, Steven N., and Joshua D. Rauh. 2013. "Family, Education, and Sources of Wealth among the Richest Americans, 1982-2012." American Economic Review, 103(3): 158-62.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.158

Abstract

We examine characteristics of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the United States over the past three decades as tabulated by Forbes Magazine, and analyze which theories of increasing inequality are most consistent with these data. The people of the Forbes 400 in recent years did not grow up as advantaged as in decades past. They are more likely to have started their businesses and to have grown up upper-middle class, not wealthy. Today's Forbes 400 were able to access education while young, and apply their skills to the most scalable industries: technology, finance, and mass retail. Most of the change occurred by 2001.

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Authors

Kaplan, Steven N. (U Chicago)
Rauh, Joshua D. (Stanford U)

JEL Classifications

D13: Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation
I20: Education and Research Institutions: General
J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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