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The equal division puzzle – empirical evidence on intergenerational transfers in Sweden

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  • Ohlsson, Henry

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to study to what extent parents divide their estates unequally between their children. Unequal sharing of parental transfers is, for example, a necessary condition for theories of altruistic (dynastic) behavior to hold. I use a new data set based on the estate reports for 230 widows, widowers, and divorcees from the city of Stockholm, Sweden deceased in 2004. Unequal sharing is unusual, depending on definitions only 7–25 percent of the estates are unequally divided. The data set is also used to estimate probit models for the likelihood of unequal sharing. A first main result is that the probability of unequal sharing is increasing in the size of the estate. Second, the older the children are on average the more likely is unequal sharing. Finally, unequal sharing is more common among deceased from some neighborhoods of the city compared to deceased from other neighborhoods.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2007:10.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 29 Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2007_010

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Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
Email:
Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/
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Keywords: bequests; inheritances; equal division; altruism;

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References

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  1. McGarry, K. & Schoeni, R.F., 1995. "Transfer Behavior With the Family: Results from the Asset and Health Dynamics Survey," Papers 95-09, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  2. McGarry, Kathleen, 1999. "Inter vivos transfers and intended bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 321-351, September.
  3. Lundholm, M. & Ohlsson, H., 1999. "Post Mortem Reputation, Compensatory Gifts and Equal Bequests," Papers 1999:3, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  4. Leslie McGranahan, 2006. "Will writing and bequest motives: early 20th century Irish evidence," Working Paper Series WP-06-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Dunn, Thomas A. & Phillips, John W., 1997. "The timing and division of parental transfers to children," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 135-137, February.
  6. Audrey Light & Kathleen McGarry, 2003. "Why Parents Play Favorites: Explanations for Unequal Bequests," NBER Working Papers 9745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Parental Allocations to Children: New Evidence on Bequest Differences among Siblings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 637-640, May.
  8. Menchik, Paul L, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U. S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316, March.
  9. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim & Sergei Severinov, 2003. "Bequests as Signals: An Explanation for the Equal Division Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 733-764, August.
  11. Laitner, John, 1993. "Intergenerational and interhousehold economic links," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 189-238 Elsevier.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ohlsson, Henry, 2007. "The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884–2004," Working Paper Series 2007:23, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Kevin Wiseman & Ctirad Slavık, 2009. "Tough Love For Lazy Kids," 2009 Meeting Papers 1091, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Katarina Nordblom & Henry Ohlsson, 2011. "Bequests, gifts, and education: links between intergenerational transfers," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 343-358, April.
  4. Ohlsson, Henry, 2007. "Tax avoidance - a natural experiment," Working Paper Series 2007:13, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  5. Erixson, Oscar & Ohlsson, Henry, 2014. "Estate division: Equal sharing as choice, social norm, and legal requirement," Working Paper Series 2014:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  6. Ellul, Andrew & Pagano, Marco & Panunzi, Fausto, 2008. "Inheritance Law and Investment in Family Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 6977, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Elinder, Mikael & Erixson, Oscar & Ohlsson, Henry, 2010. "The Effect of Inheritance Receipt on Labor and Capital Income: Evidence from Swedish Panel Data," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2010:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.

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