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Bequests as a Means of Payment

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Andrei Shleifer
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

Although recent research suggests that intergenerational transfers play an important role in aggregate capital accumulation, our understanding of bequest motives remains incomplete. We develop a simple model of"exchange-motivated" bequests, in which a testator influences the decisions ofhis beneficiaries by holding wealth in bequeathable forms and by conditioning the division of bequests on the beneficiaries' actions. The model generates falsifiable empirical predictions which are inconsistent with other theories of intergenerational transfers. We present econometric and other evidence which strongly suggests that bequests are often used as a means of payment for services rendered by beneficiaries.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1303.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1303.

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Date of creation: Mar 1986
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Publication status: published as Bernheim, B. Douglas, Andrei Shleifer and Lawrence H. Summers, "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 93, No. 6, (December 1985), pp. 1045-1076.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1303

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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Axel Borsch-Supan & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & John N. Morris, 1990. "The Provision of Time to the Elderly by Their Children," NBER Working Papers 3363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Eichenbaum, Martin S & Peled, Dan, 1987. "Capital Accumulation and Annuities in an Adverse Selection Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 334-54, April.
  3. Feldstein, Martin, 1988. "The Effects of Fiscal Policies when Incomes Are Uncertain: A Contradiction to Ricardian Equivalence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 14-23, March.
  4. Rodrigo J. Raad & Gilvan R. Guedes, 2014. "Bequest choices under uncertainty," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 504, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
  5. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving After Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1987. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," NBER Working Papers 2237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "Annuity Prices and Saving Behavior in the United States," NBER Working Papers 1683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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