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From Inheritances to Wealth: A Mortality Multiplier Approach for Austria

Original Citation

Ertl, M. (2024) From Inheritances to Wealth: A Mortality Multiplier Approach for Austria. INEQ Working Paper Series, 30. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


Despite the significant impact of wealth magnitude and distribution on income inequality and economic stability, a research gap exists in understanding wealth patterns in Austria before 2010. This paper addresses this gap by utilizing a novel data source from former gift and inheritance taxation. By applying the mortality multiplier approach, we estimate private wealth based on transferred wealth at death. Our baseline results indicate bequest flows between 4.7 Bln. € and 6.2 Bln. €, leading to wealth-income ratios up to 150%. In an alternative scenario where we assume Germany’s relative transfer level for Austria, we arrive at wealth-income ratios that are approximately three times higher. These discrepancies highlight potential under-coverage of bequest and gift flows in available tax data, calling for future research with administrative access to past wealth tax data in Austria to bridge these knowledge gaps.

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