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Bequests and the Accumulation of Wealth in the Eurozone

Original Citation

Humer, Stefan and Moser, Mathias and Schnetzer, Matthias (2016) Bequests and the Accumulation of Wealth in the Eurozone. INEQ Working Paper Series, 1. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


This paper empirically compares the contribution of the two major wealth accumulation factors - earned income and inheritances - to the net wealth position of households in the Eurozone. The elasticities of both wealth sources differ considerably across countries and are overly non-linear. Depending on the position in the wealth distribution, an increase of one percentile in the income distribution corresponds to 0.1-0.6 percentiles in the net wealth distribution. We find substantially stronger effects for inheritances vis-á-vis income. In Greece, Portugal, and Austria, households have to climb around three percentiles in the income distribution to compensate a one percentile increase in the inheritance distribution. The findings clearly suggest that bequests play a stronger role in wealth accumulation than earned income.

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