Generational Wealth Accounts quantify the size and direction of all resource transfers between different generations in a population

Father and Daughter

Research questions

Are current consumption plans sustainable for future generations?

Does the public sector reduce inter-generational inequalities or exacerbate them?

How important are bequests in transferring wealth across generations?

Do the generations share aggregate risk with each other, and how?

Does the recent increase in asset prices benefit the old or the young?

What are the implications of population ageing for the current and future young?

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History

Population ageing is one of the great challenges of our time.  Yet until now, analytical tools that provide a comprehensive measure of the implications of policy choices for different generations have not existed.  Generational Wealth Accounts were developed by researchers at the University of Georgia and Imperial College, London, with collaboration from colleagues at UC Berkeley and the University of Ljubljana,  to fill this gap, and thereby inform debate on the appropriate policy response to a greying world.

 

GWA's build on the National Transfer Accounts by capitalizing future transfers to produce estimates of current transfer wealth that incorporate the effects of future demographic changes, such as the increased lifespan of the current elderly and the low fertility rates of those currently in middle age.   And by including financial wealth and the present value of wages, GWA's provide a comprehensive balance sheet of the generations that includes human capital, transfer wealth and financial wealth. 

 

GWA's extend Generational Accounts - which measure only the public sector - to the whole economy.  This allows the sustainability of aggregate consumption plans of the different generations to be measured. 

And examining how the accounts change over time provides a picture of how the transfers between the generations change - for instance in response to large macro-economic shocks such as the financial crisis of 2007.  This provides insight into how the effects of aggregate shocks are spread across the generations.

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Funding for initial work on the GWA was gratefully received from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) of the UK.  

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Research collaborations