Do Inheritance Customs Affect Political and Social Inequality?

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2019
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Hilbig, Hanno
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American Journal of Political Science. 2019, 63(4), pp. 758-773. ISSN 0092-5853. eISSN 1540-5907. Available under: doi: 10.1111/ajps.12460
Zusammenfassung

Why are some societies more unequal than others? The French revolutionaries believed unequal inheritances among siblings to be responsible for the strict hierarchies of the ancien régime. To achieve equality, the revolutionaries therefore enforced equal inheritance rights. Their goal was to empower women and to disenfranchise the noble class. But do equal inheritances succeed in leveling the societal playing field? We study Germany—a country with pronounced local‐level variation in inheritance customs—and find that municipalities that historically equally apportioned wealth, to this day, elect more women into political councils and have fewer aristocrats in the social elite. Using historic data, we point to two mechanisms: wealth equality and pro‐egalitarian preferences. In a final step, we also show that, counterintuitively, equitable inheritance customs positively predict income inequality. We interpret this finding to mean that equitable inheritances level the playing field by rewarding talent, not status.

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ISO 690HAGER, Anselm, Hanno HILBIG, 2019. Do Inheritance Customs Affect Political and Social Inequality?. In: American Journal of Political Science. 2019, 63(4), pp. 758-773. ISSN 0092-5853. eISSN 1540-5907. Available under: doi: 10.1111/ajps.12460
BibTex
@article{Hager2019-10Inher-46761,
  year={2019},
  doi={10.1111/ajps.12460},
  title={Do Inheritance Customs Affect Political and Social Inequality?},
  number={4},
  volume={63},
  issn={0092-5853},
  journal={American Journal of Political Science},
  pages={758--773},
  author={Hager, Anselm and Hilbig, Hanno}
}
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