Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Bequests as Signals: An Explanation for the Equal Division Puzzle

Contents:

Author Info

  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Sergei Severinov

Abstract

In the United States, more than two-thirds of decedents with multichild families divide their estates exactly equally among their children. In contrast, gifts given before death are usually unequal. These findings challenge the validity of existing theories regarding the determination of intergenerational transfers. In this paper, we develop a theory that accounts for this puzzle based on the notion that the division of bequests provides a signal about a parent's altruistic preferences. The theory can also explain the norm of unigeniture, which prevails in other societies.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?JPE111406PDF
File Function: main text
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 111 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 733-764

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:111:y:2003:i:4:p:733-764

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  2. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Lundholm, Michael & Ohlsson, Henry, 1999. "Post Mortem Reputation, Compensatory Gifts and Equal Bequests," Research Papers in Economics 1999:1, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  4. B. Douglas Bernheim & Kyle Bagwell, 1989. "Is Everything Neutral?," NBER Working Papers 2086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David Austen-Smith & Jeffrey S. Banks, 1998. "Cheap Talk and Burned Money," Discussion Papers 1245, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
  7. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  8. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  9. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-58, October.
  10. W. G. Gale & J. K. Scholz, . "Intergenerational transfers and the accumulation of wealth," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1019-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  11. Wilhelm, Mark O, 1996. "Bequest Behavior and the Effect of Heirs' Earnings: Testing the Altruistic Model of Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 874-92, September.
  12. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
  13. Abel, Andrew B & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "Fiscal Policy with Impure Intergenerational Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1687-1711, November.
  14. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
  15. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
  16. Cho, In-Koo & Sobel, Joel, 1990. "Strategic stability and uniqueness in signaling games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 381-413, April.
  17. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  18. Banks, Jeffrey S., 1990. "A model of electoral competition with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 309-325, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:111:y:2003:i:4:p:733-764. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.