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Wealth Transfers and Net Wealth at Death: Evidence from the Italian Inheritance Tax Records 1995-2016

Paolo Acciari, Salvatore Morelli


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Janet C. Gornick, Barry Johnson, and Arthur Kennickell, editors
Conference held March 5-6, 2020
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press
in NBER Book Series Studies in Income and Wealth

In this paper we describe a novel source of data on the full record of inheritance tax files in Italy, covering up to 63% of total deceased. The work documents a substantial rise in the share of inheritance and gifts as a share of total national income, from 8.4% in 1995 to 15.1% in 2016. Consistently with the substantial and increasing role of total personal net wealth in the economy, the weight of inheritance and gifts in Italy appears relatively high by international standards. Over the same period, total wealth left at death has also become increasingly concentrated.The millionaire estates were worth 14% of total estate in the mid-1990s and almost 25% in 2016. This paper also documents that revenues collected from the inheritance tax experienced a threefold decline from 0.15% to 0.05% of total tax revenue between 1995 and 2016. Data also allow a disaggregated analyis by demographic and geographic characteristics.

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