Wealth surveys that collect information on intergenerational transfers provide new scope for comparative study of those transfers and their relationship with wealth across rich countries. However, this is problematic in the case of Great Britain, due to specific features of the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS), the central source of survey-based household wealth data, in particular the extent of missing information in its first wave. This has severely constrained efforts to investigate patterns of wealth transfer in Great Britain in comparative perspective. In this paper, we set out these issues and present ways of dealing with them. On this basis, we then examine the main similarities and differences in patterns of intergenerational transmission of wealth between Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States. Our findings reveal common features across these countries as well as some important respects in which Great Britain was distinctive, though less of an outlier than the US. About 35 per cent of British households reported receiving an intergenerational wealth transfer at some point, similar to most of the comparator countries but much higher than the US. We conclude by setting out how WAS can be enhanced to address these issues at source, proposals with which the Office for National Statistics is seriously engaged.
Nolan, B., Palomino, J.C., Van Kerm, P. & Morelli, S. (2022). 'Intergenerational wealth transfers in Great Britain from the Wealth and Assets Survey in comparative perspective'. Fiscal Studies 2022: 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-5890.12299