Working Paper

Fiscal Redistribution by Age and Generational Inequality in the Twentieth Century

This paper is the most comprehensive look at federal, state, and local government fiscal redistribution in the twentieth century. There were four distinct eras of fiscal policy, but the government increased its relative generosity to the elderly so that by the 1970s the elderly received more net transfers than the young. Net transfers received in retirement were by far the largest source of cohort lifetime redistribution. Unless historical rates of growth in aggregate transfers or the age-profile of transfers are maintained, cohorts born 1920-45 will have less lifetime net transfers as a percent of lifetime income than those born 1900-20.