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In this quote, Janet Yellen is providing statistics about the distribution of inheritances among American households. She states that just over half of the total value of all inheritances went to the top 5% highest-earning households. Additionally, she notes that the next 45% of households (those between the 5th and 50th percentiles) received 40% of the total inheritance value.
This quote suggests there is significant inequality in the receipt of intergenerational wealth transfers like inheritances. Yellen’s figures indicate that the top half of households in terms of income receive the vast majority of bequests from deceased family members. The quote sheds light on how concentrated inheritance wealth is among higher-income families in the United States.