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The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children

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  • Joseph G. Altonji
  • Ernesto Villanueva

Abstract

We examine how much of an extra dollar of parental lifetime resources will ultimately be passed on to adult children in the form of inter vivos transfers and bequests. We infer bequests from the stock of wealth late in life. We use mortality rates and age specific estimates of the response of transfers and wealth to permanent income to compute the expected present discounted values of these responses to permanent income. Our estimates imply parents pass on between 2 and 3 cents out of an extra dollar of expected lifetime resources in bequests and about 2 cents in transfers. The estimates increase with parental income and are smaller for nonwhites. They imply that about 15 percent of the effect of parental income on lifetime resources of adult children is through transfers and bequests and about 85 percent is through the intergenerational correlation in earnings, although these estimates are sensitive to assumptions about the intergenerational earnings correlation, taxes, and the number of children. We compare our estimates to the implications of alternative computable benchmark models of savings behavior in order to assess the likely importance of intended bequests for the wealth/income relationship.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 90.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:90

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Keywords: Bequests; intervivos transfers; permanent income;

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Cited by:
  1. Cagetti, Marco & De Nardi, Mariacristina, 2008. "Wealth Inequality: Data And Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 285-313, September.
  2. Fang Yang, 2006. "Consumption along the life cycle: how different is housing?," Working Papers 635, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Fang (Annie) Yang, 2008. "Accounting for the Heterogeneity in Retirement Wealth," Discussion Papers 08-01, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  4. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2012. "Envy and Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(3), pages 949-973, 09.
  5. Fang Yang & Wenli Li, 2009. "Deconstructing Life-cycle Consumption with Home Production," 2009 Meeting Papers 670, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Yang, Fang, 2013. "Social security reform with impure intergenerational altruism," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 52-67.
  7. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Van Long, Ngo, 2011. "The relative income hypothesis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1489-1501, September.
  8. Ernesto Villanueva, 2005. "Inter vivos transfers and bequests in three OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 20(43), pages 505-565, 07.
  9. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2008. "A Permanent Income Version of the Relative Income Hypothesis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2361, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Justine Hastings & Ebonya Washington, 2010. "The First of the Month Effect: Consumer Behavior and Store Responses," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 142-62, May.
  11. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & El-Attar, Mayssun, 2012. "Income Inequality and Saving," IZA Discussion Papers 7083, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Fang (Annie) Yang, 2006. "Consumption Over Life Cycle: How Different is Housing?," Discussion Papers 06-01, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.

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