Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Shaefer and Edin's book ($2 a Day) cited in piece on political debate over plight of impoverished Americans

Eisenberg tracks factors affecting both mental health and athletic/academic performance among college athletes

Shapiro says Americans' low spending reflects "cruel lesson" about the dangers of debt

Highlights

Susan Murphy elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Maggie Levenstein named director of ISR's Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

Arline Geronimus receives 2016 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award

PSC spring 2016 newsletter: Kristin Seefeldt, Brady West, newly funded projects, ISR Runs for Bob, and more

Next Brown Bag

PSC Brown Bags
will resume fall 2016

Intergenerational Wealth Transmission and the Dynamics of Inequality in Small-Scale Societies

Publication Abstract

Mulder, M.B., S. Bowles, T. Hertz, A. Bell, J. Beise, G. Clark, I. Fazzio, M. Gurven, K. Hill, P.L. Hooper, W. Irons, Hillard Kaplan, D. Leonetti, Bobbi Low, F.W. Marlowe, R. McElreath, S. Naidu, D. Nolin, P. Piraino, R. Quinlan, E. Schniter, R. Sear, M. Shenk, E.A. Smith, C. von Rueden, and P. Wiessner. 2009. "Intergenerational Wealth Transmission and the Dynamics of Inequality in Small-Scale Societies." Science, 326(5953): 682-688.

Small-scale human societies range from foraging bands with a strong egalitarian ethos to more economically stratified agrarian and pastoral societies. We explain this variation in inequality using a dynamic model in which a population's long-run steady-state level of inequality depends on the extent to which its most important forms of wealth are transmitted within families across generations. We estimate the degree of intergenerational transmission of three different types of wealth (material, embodied, and relational), as well as the extent of wealth inequality in 21 historical and contemporary populations. We show that intergenerational transmission of wealth and wealth inequality are substantial among pastoral and small-scale agricultural societies (on a par with or even exceeding the most unequal modern industrial economies) but are limited among horticultural and foraging peoples (equivalent to the most egalitarian of modern industrial populations). Differences in the technology by which a people derive their livelihood and in the institutions and norms making up the economic system jointly contribute to this pattern.

DOI:10.1126/science.1178336 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC2792081. (Pub Med Central)

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next