Succession Economics: Sustaining prosperity beyond death

Davies, Will. 2020. Succession Economics: Sustaining prosperity beyond death. CUSP Working Paper Series(24), ISSN 2397-8341 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Contemporary economic and ecological politics frequently revolves around a fundamental problem, of what has been left to us by previous generations, and what we will leave to our successors. This has grave collective, indeed planetary, dimensions where climate change is concerned. However, as economic outcomes are increasingly determined by the power of assets and rents, so capitalist societies are witnessing a revival of dynastic forms of intergenerational advantage and disadvantage, where families and defensive legal instruments (such as trusts) sustain wealth privately. The rising influence of inherited wealth since the 1970s means that liberal ideals of ‘meritocracy’ and rewards for effort and innovation become harder to credit. The paper considers these themes via two literatures. Firstly, by reflecting on the question of a sustained or ‘immortal’ common world, as explored in the work of theorists such as Honig and Arendt. Secondly, by looking at development of private wealth and its transmission beyond the lifespan, as explored by Piketty and others. By reading these literatures together, we confront a core existential problem of contemporary capitalism: the extent to which the need to sustain the common world has become channeled into an instinct to sustain private property.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Political Economy Research Centre


12 June 2020Published Online

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Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2020 13:38

Last Modified:

07 Apr 2021 09:39


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