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

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Frey and colleagues outline 10 trends showing scale of America's demographic transitions

Starr says surveys intended to predict recidivism assign higher risk to poor

Prescott and colleagues find incidence of noncompetes in U.S. labor force varies by job, state, worker education

Highlights

ISR addition wins LEED Gold Certification

Call for Proposals: Small Grants for Research Using PSID Data. Due March 2, 2015

PSC Fall 2014 Newsletter now available

Martha Bailey and Nicolas Duquette win Cole Prize for article on War on Poverty

Next Brown Bag

Mon, March 9
Luigi Pistaferri, Consumption Inequality and Family Labor Supply

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