Research by John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish at Boston College published in 1999 asserted there would be an immense surge of at least $41 trillion and as much as $136 trillion in wealth transfers over the next 50 years. The authors predicted charitable bequests of $1.7 trillion to $2.7 trillion from 1998-2017. Many nonprofits used the report entitled Millionaires and the Millennium: New Estimates of the Forthcoming Wealth Transfer and the Prospects for a Golden Age of Philanthropy to justify greater investment of money and staff time in gift planning programs.
Actual wealth transfers from 1999-2018 were well below their projections, but a 2018 report by The Chronicle of Philanthropy entitled $9 Trillion and Counting cites new research predicting that $9 trillion will be transferred between generations from 2018-2028. This massive transfer will include the leading edge of the oldest Baby Boomers. Estate transfers are projected to grow to $97 trillion by 2067.
The increasing concentration of accumulated wealth and annual income in America will have profound implications for charitable giving. Real annual wages increased 40.1% for the average worker from 1979-2017, while wages for the top 10% increased 69.3%, the top 1% increased 157.3%, and the top 0.1% increased 343.2%.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 seems to have accelerated the concentration of wealth at the top.