Class Origin, Intergenerational Transfers, and the Gender Wealth Gap

This study pursues two objectives: First, to describe how gender disparities in wealth levels vary by parental class and second, to examine the contribution of intergenerational transfers to these differences. It thereby sheds light on the hitherto neglected interplay between family background and gender in shaping wealth inequality. Using representative survey data from Germany, I find pronounced absolute and relative gaps in personal net wealth to the disadvantage of women. The largest wealth gaps are observed between men and women from the most advantaged backgrounds, for whom parental transfers of business and financial assets are strongly gendered. For these individuals, gender gaps would be reduced by around 40 per cent if transfers were allocated equally. For those from lower class origins, equalising transfers would not reduce gender gaps despite observed differences in the allocation of real estate and cash. Intergenerational transfers thus emerge as driver of gender wealth inequality at the very top of the class origin hierarchy.