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The intergenerational transmission of family wealth

Researchers: Professor Brian Nolan | Dr Erzs'bet Bukodi ...

Project overview

This project is investigating the direct transmission of wealth across generations and the role of institutions, policy and legislation in the intergenerational transmission of wealth.

Rising income inequality is a widely shared concern, but wealth is far more unequally distributed and is a core dimension of broader economic inequality in the UK today. While a good deal is known about intergenerational 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 newly available quantitative data for the UK and comparator countries, especially the Wealth and Assets Survey and the Luxembourg Wealth Study, the researchers are first undertaking an in-depth examination of the comparability of the British data with other countries ‘ to ensure comparative findings will be reliable and robust.

The research team will subsequently examine the direct transmission of wealth across generations in Britain compared to other rich countries (with particular emphasis on Australia, France, Germany, Italy and the USA), and explore what this suggests about the dynamics of wealth accumulation and inequality.  They will investigate the role of institutions, policy and legislation in the intergenerational transmission of wealth and what might be done to promote equality of opportunity.

Findings will enhance knowledge and understanding about the complex ways in which wealth transfers influence wealth accumulation and inequality in the UK and more broadly, and inform thinking about how policy should respond.

Databases created during this project will be made available to future researchers.


  • Professor Brian Nolan
    University of Oxford
  • Dr Erzs'bet Bukodi
    University of Oxford
  • Dr Salvatore Morelli
    The City University of New York
  • Professor Phillippe Van Kerm
    University of Luxembourg

  • Alex Beer
    Senior Consultant, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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