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Intergenerational Transfers in the Health and Retirement Study Data

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  • John Laitner

    (University of Michigan)

  • Amanda Sonnega

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Many economic analyses of public policy issues are based upon the life-cycle model of household behavior. The usual formulation omits private intergenerational transfers. This paper considers the possibility of a more sophisticated formulation that includes the latter. We examine 1992-2008 HRS data on inheritances and inter vivos gifts. We uncover an underreporting problem in the data: a household’s financial respondent often seems to understate transfers from his/her in-laws. Nevertheless, other aspects of the data seem very useful. About 30-40 percent of households eventually inherit. Inheritances seem to reflect a mixture of intentional and accidental bequests, with the latter twice as prevalent.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp238.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp238

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  1. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Kessler, Denis & Masson, Andre, 1989. "Bequest and Wealth Accumulation: Are Some Pieces of the Puzzle Missing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 141-52, Summer.
  3. 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.
  4. Laitner, J. & Ohlsson, H., 1998. "Bequest Motives: a Comparison of Sweden and the United States," Papers 1998:16, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  5. McGarry, K & Schoeni, R-F, 1996. "Measurement and the Redistribution of Resources Within the Family," Papers 96-11, RAND - Reprint Series.
  6. 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.
  7. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
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