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The Importance of Gifts and Inheritances Among the Affluent

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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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2415.

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Date of creation: Oct 1987
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Publication status: published as In The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth. Robert E. Lipsey, and Helen Tice, eds. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1989.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2415

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  1. Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
  2. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1984. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 258-59, March.
  3. Kurz, Mordecai, 1984. "Capital Accumulation and the Characteristics of Private Inter-Generational Transfers," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(201), pages 1-22, February.
  4. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
  5. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
  6. Michael R. Darby, 1978. "The Effects of Social Security on Income and the Capital Stock," UCLA Economics Working Papers, UCLA Department of Economics 095, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-43, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Rajnish Mehra & Facundo Piguillem & Edward C. Prescott, 2011. "Costly financial intermediation in neoclassical growth theory," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 2(1), pages 1-36, 03.
  2. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
  3. Rajnish Mehra & Facundo Piguillem & Edward C. Prescott, 2008. "Intermediated quantities and returns," Staff Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 405, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. George Constantinides & John Donaldson & Rajnish Mehra, 2007. "Junior is rich: bequests as consumption," Economic Theory, Springer, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 125-155, July.
  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. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2007. "To Leave or Not to Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 207-235.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 457-473.

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