Summary and Concluding Thoughts: The Persistence of Wealth Inequality
Wealth inequality is driven by complex interacting forces and the outcome of economic change. The long-term trend in wealth inequality is for it to be pushed up by the forces of economic growth and industrialization in line with a Kuznets curve type story, but mitigating factors can pull it back down as during the twentieth century. Along with increased unionization rates, there were government policy factors such as estate taxation and the fostering of home ownership. A reduction in union strength as well as the end of estate taxation and less progressive income tax systems may be factors raising economic inequality since the 1970s, especially when combined with lower economic growth rates in relation to rates of return to capital as like with Piketty’s story.