The Evolution of the Wealth and Income Distributions Across Generations: a Data Collection Project

This research project enhances our understanding of how endowments and subsequent opportunities and shocks explain the evolution of individual and family well-being across generations.

What are the determinants of the changes in well-being across generations, and is the evolution of the wealth distribution across generations accompanied by changes in a family/dynasty’s position? If so, what explains who the relative winners and losers are? This project addresses the above questions by creating a new data set based on linked 19th century archival sources pertaining to a single Italian town. The data has several advantages when compared to the existing longitudinal data sets. First, it covers the long time horizon necessary to carry out comparisons across generations. Second, it contains repeated measures of family/individual wealth and income. Third, it contains direct information on random income shocks received by families at different stages of their life cycle. Finally, it does not suffer from the severe attrition problems that plague contemporary long span longitudinal data sets.