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Inherited Wealth

center on wealth and philanthropy

“The Inheritance of Wealth and the Commonwealth: The Ideal of Paideia in an Age of Affluence” Paul G. Schervish. Philanthropy Across the Generations (Dwight F. Burlingame, ed.). New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, no. 42, Winter 2003, pp. 5-24. Cathlene Williams, Lilya Wagner (Coeditors-in-Chief)
The transmission of philanthropy across the generations is the transfer of a spiritual agency of material capacity, care for others, and a process of conscientious decision-making and choice. The intergenerational transmission of philanthropy is less a matter of shepherding heirs to become caretakers of existing philanthropic instruments and endeavors as it is a matter of guiding heirs to become agents who reconstitute for their own time and in their own way the relation between wealth and the commonwealth. In the first section of the paper I draw on an essay by John Maynard Keynes to set the stage for an understanding of the material and cultural conditions in the offing during the early twenty-first century. In the second section, I summarize several elements of the material heritage we will leave our children, including a substantial transfer of wealth, and indicate the implications of these trends for the historical circumstances of wealth and philanthropy that our heirs will face. The third section examines the meaning of moral biography as the confluence of material capacity and moral compass, and how our calling today is to provide our heirs the opportunity to conscientiously shape their own moral biographies tailored to the distinctive characteristics of the future in which they will live. In the fourth section, I explore two elements of how we might best go about to help our children and grandchildren form their own moral biographies. I focus especially on the communication of paideia, the Greek ideal of formative education and the meaning of culture, as the ideal of our teachings and on discernment as a process of decision making aimed at clarifying one’s philanthropic resources, purposes, and mode of implementation. In the conclusion, I exhort those in my generation to make it our vocation to help our children freely discover their own vocation.

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"Passing It On: The Generational Transmission of Wealth and Financial Care."
Paul G. Schervish. In Care and Community in Modern Society: Passing on the Tradition of Service to Future Generations, edited by Paul G. Schervish, Virginia A. Hodgkinson, and Margaret Gates. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. 109-133.
During the course of our interviews with 130 millionaires, respondents frequently addressed their intention to pass on to their children a sense of financial care along with a financial inheritance. This essay describes four aspects of the generational transmittal of financial care that parents cited in the course of their interviews. By way of conclusion, I summarize the factors that appear to influence the transfer of financial morality by wealthy parents and indicate general implications for the generational transmittal of care.

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