It has long been recognized that, in a society based on the private ownership of property, inheritance is the key mechanism through which wealth and the privileges associated with it are kept within the control of one sector of the society (Engels 1884, Macfarlane 1978, Townsend 1979, Davidoff & Hall 1987). TTris happens because, except very unusually, it is the custom in such societies for property (of all types) to pass from one generation to the next within the same family.