The distribution of wealth is of major concern for its potential economic, social and political impacts. Wealth transfers between generations give rise to a variety of normative and practical issues with respect to taxation in particular as equity between and within generations looms large in current British debates.

This report contributes to those debates by investigating patterns of wealth transmission across generations and the role this plays in wealth accumulation and the generation of wealth inequality in Britain compared with other rich countries. It is the first study to investigate this in depth in a comparative framework bringing together data from the Wealth and Assets Survey with survey data for France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the US. It is based on retrospective data from surveys carried out before the current health and economic crisis due to COVID-19. That crisis will have deep-seated and long-lasting effects on wealth that are extremely difficult to assess at this point, including on inheritances to be received in the future, but that does not diminish the importance of understanding past patterns of intergenerational wealth transmission.


Nolan, B., Palomino, J., Van Kerm, P. & Morelli, S. (2020). 'The Wealth of Families: The Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth in Britain in Comparative Perspective'. Nuffield Foundation Report.
Download Document (pdf, 5.891 MB)