Salience of Inherited Wealth and the Support for Inheritance Taxation

Spencer Bastani

Salience of Inherited Wealth and the Support for Inheritance Taxation

Abstract

Using a randomized survey experiment on a register-linked Swedish sample, we find that informing individuals about the large aggregate importance of inherited wealth and its link to inequality of opportunity significantly increases the support for inheritance taxation. The effect is relatively uniform across socio-economic groups, survives a battery of robustness tests, and appears to be driven by individuals’ changing perceptions of inherited wealth and altered views on whether luck and circumstance matters most for economic success. Our results suggest that the low salience of wealth inequality in society could be one explanation behind the relatively marginalized role of capital taxation in developed economies.