Lisa Keister

Lisa A. Keister is an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University and the author of Wealth in America.

Recent Articles

The Estate Tax as Robin Hood

W hat impact would repealing the estate tax have on the distribution of wealth? On the face of it, there should be no doubt that wealth would become more concentrated. Fewer than 2 percent of estates pay any tax at all; and as of 1997, half of the total taxes paid came from estates valued at more than $5 million. Nonetheless, some conservatives say that the estate tax is a failure because it has not spread wealth more equally. "Wealth is probably more unequally distributed in the United States than in countries with no estate tax," Bruce Bartlett of the libertarian National Center for Policy Analysis wrote last fall in The Public Interest. His conclusion: Since the estate tax is ineffective, we should get rid of it. The distribution of wealth is less equitable in the United States than in the four countries without an estate tax that Bartlett mentions: Canada, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1998 the richest 20 percent of Americans owned almost 85 percent of all household...