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The Importance of Gifts and Inheritances Among the Affluent

In: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth

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  • Michael D. Hurd
  • B. Gabriela Mundaca

Abstract

Using data from the 1964 Survey of the Economic Behavior of the Affluent, we estimate directly the fraction of household assets which come from inheritances and the fraction from gifts. These data are well suited for this calculation because the survey is heavily weighted toward households with high incomes, and because the respondents were directly asked about the sources of their wealth. We estimate that 15-202 of household wealth came from inheritances and 5-102 from gifts. Even in households with very high incomes, very few people say that a large fraction of their assets were inherited or were given to them. According to the responses in this survey, it is not creditable that as much as 50% of household assets came from gifts and inheritances. Using data from the 1983 Survey of Consumer Finances with high income supplement, we roughly confirm the 1964 results, although the 1983 data are much less complete than the 1964 data.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Robert E. Lipsey & Helen Stone Tice, 1989. "The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips89-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 8130.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8130

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    1. Kurz, Mordecai, 1984. "Capital Accumulation and the Characteristics of Private Inter-Generational Transfers," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(201), pages 1-22, February.
    2. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
    3. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
    4. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1984. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 258-59, March.
    5. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-43, June.
    6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 0445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Michael R. Darby, 1978. "The Effects of Social Security on Income and the Capital Stock," UCLA Economics Working Papers 095, UCLA Department of Economics.
    8. Modigliani, Franco, 1985. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift and the Wealth of Nations," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1985-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
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    Cited by:
    1. George Constantinides & John Donaldson & Rajnish Mehra, 2007. "Junior is rich: bequests as consumption," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 125-155, July.
    2. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
    3. Rajnish Mehra & Facundo Piguillem & Edward C. Prescott, 2008. "Costly Financial Intermediation in Neoclassical Growth Theory," NBER Working Papers 14351, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph Lupton, 2005. "To Leave or Not To Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," NBER Working Papers 11767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jeffrey R. Brown & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2002. "Is a Bird in Hand Worth More than a Bird in the Bush? Intergenerational Transfers and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 8753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Beverly, Sondra G. & Sherraden, Michael, 1999. "Institutional determinants of saving: implications for low-income households and public policy," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 457-473.
    7. Rajnish Mehra & Facundo Piguillem & Edward C. Prescott, 2007. "Intermediated quantities and returns," Working Papers 655, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    8. Jeffrey Brown & Scott Weisbenner, 2004. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 181-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Michael D. Hurd, 1989. "Issues and Results from Research on the Elderly I: Economic Status (Part I of III Parts)," NBER Working Papers 3018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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