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 MPIfG Podcasts



Fabian Pfeffer
Wealth Inequality among the 99%: Insights from International and Intergenerational Perspectives


Recent scholarship on wealth inequality has paid close attention to the extreme concentration of wealth at the very top of the distribution. At the same time, a very high level of wealth inequality also afflicts those below the top. Fabian Pfeffer's talk describes wealth inequality among the 99% and pulls together some recent findings on its sources and consequences. Drawing on new cross-national evidence, it demonstrates that international differences in wealth inequality diverge sharply from international differences in income inequality. Consequently, existing comparative-explanatory frameworks, such as those entailed in welfare state regimes and varieties of capitalism, offer limited promise to explain cross-national differences in wealth inequality. Turning to an analysis of the country with the highest level of wealth inequality, the United States, the second part of this talk discusses how wealth inequality persists across generations. Interestingly, both the international and the intergenerational evidence arrive at the same conclusion as to the most central component underlying wealth inequality among the 99%, namely, inequality in housing wealth. The centrality of housing invites a closer connection between future research on wealth, housing markets, and financialization.

Fabian T. Pfeffer is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Sociology and Research Associate Professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He serves as the Director of the Center for Inequality Dynamics (CID) as well as Co-Investigator of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). His research investigates social inequality and its maintenance across time and generations. Current projects focus on wealth inequality and its consequences for the next generation, social mobility across multiple generations, the maintenance of inequality through education, and the effects of experiencing social mobility.




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