Wealth and Stratification Processes

Spilerman, Seymour

This paper reviews current information on wealth trends, with particular attention to the role of household wealth in the stratification system. The first section considers the relevance of wealth for stratification processes and examines why an appreciation of household wealth has been slow to materialize in stratification research. Subsequent sections discuss aspects of the distribution of household wealth in the United States, the transmission of inequality across generations, and implications of a consideration of wealth for stratification theory and social policy. The concluding section conveys some observations about the need for developing models of consumption potential and living standards, akin to the socioeconomic attainment formulation, which incorporate measures of household wealth and the transmission of wealth.


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Annual Review of Sociology

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May 10, 2013