The Carnegie Conjecture: Some Empirical Evidence
This paper examines tax return-generated data on the labor force behavior of people before and after they receive inheritances. The results are consistent with Andrew Carnegie's century-old assertion that large inheritances decrease a person's labor force participation. For example, a single person who receives an inheritance of over $150,000 is roughly four times more likely to leave the labor force than a person with an inheritance below $25,000. Additional, albeit weaker, evidence suggests that large inheritances depress labor supply, even when participation is unaltered.