Project Leader / Primary Investigator

Brian Nolan

This project, supported by the Nuffield Foundation, is investigating the direct transmission of wealth across generations in rich countries and the role of institutions, policy and legislation in the intergenerational transmission of wealth.

While a good deal is known about inter-generational mobility in income, social class and education, there remain serious gaps in knowledge about the role of wealth in the transmission of socio-economic advantages and disadvantages from one generation to the next in Britain. Using quantitative data for the UK from the Wealth and Assets Survey, the research is undertaking an in-depth examination of the comparability of the British data with other countries to ensure comparative findings are reliable and robust. It is then examining patterns of transmission of wealth across generations in the form of inheritances and gifts in Britain compared to other rich countries, and exploring what this suggests about the dynamics of wealth accumulation and inequality. The research is being carried out by Professor Brian Nolan, Professor Erzsébet Bukodi, and Dr. Juan Palomino, together with Professor Salvatore Morelli (CUNY) and Professor Philippe Van Kerm (University of Luxembourg).

Key research questions are:

  • How do patterns of direct transmission of wealth across generations in Britain compare to other rich countries?
  • What role do these transfers play in the dynamics of wealth accumulation and inequality?
  • What does this suggests about the ways in which institutions, policy and legislation influence the intergenerational transmission of wealth, and how best to promote equality of opportunity.

Research Themes

Research Programmes