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The Timing of Intergenerational Transfers, Tax Policy, and Aggregate Savings

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  • David Altig
  • Steve J. Davis

Abstract

We analyze the interest rate and savings effects of fiscal policy in an overlapping generations framework that accommodates two observations: (1) The interest rate on consumption loans exceeds the rate of return to household savings. (2) Private intergenerational transfers are widespread and primarily occur early in the lifecycle of recipients. The wedge between borrowing and lending rates in our model arises from the asymmetric tax treatment of interest income and interest payments. Intergenerational transfers are altruistically motivated. Under the assumption that altruistic transfers occur in at least some family lines and other plausible conditions, we prove the invariance of capital's steady-state marginal product to government expenditures, government debt, the labor income tax schedule, and the tax rate on capital income. In contrast, we find that the tax treatment of interest payments has powerful effects on capitals? marginal product and aggregate savings in life-cycle and, especially, altruistic linkage models. Our theoretical analysis also generates new testable implications for empirical work on how tax policy effects aggregate savings and on the connection between the age distribution of resources and the age distribution of consumption. Simulations of our model suggest that the 1986 Tax Reform Act's elimination of interest deductibility on consumer loan repayments will significantly increase per capita savings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3753.

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Date of creation: Jun 1991
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review December 1992, Volume 82, No. 5
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3753

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  1. Glenn B. Canner & Charles A. Luckett, 1989. "Home equity lending," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue May, pages 333-344.
  2. Andrew B. Abel & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1988. "Does the Consumption of Different Age Groups Move Together? A New Nonparametric Test of Intergenerational Altruism," NBER Working Papers 2490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Tax Policy, the Rate of Return, and Savings," NBER Working Papers 0995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  5. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
  6. Altig, David & Davis, Steve J., 1989. "Government debt, redistributive fiscal policies, and the interaction between borrowing constraints and intergenerational altrusim," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 3-29, July.
  7. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 3046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1987. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," NBER Working Papers 2237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim & Kyle Bagwell, 1989. "Is Everything Neutral?," NBER Working Papers 2086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 1985. "Public debt and United States saving: A new test of the neutrality hypothesis," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 55-86, January.
  12. Altig, David & Davis, Steven J., 1993. "Borrowing constraints and two-sided altruism with an application to social security," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 467-494, May.
  13. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Hurst, Erik & Willen, Paul, 2007. "Social security and unsecured debt," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1273-1297, August.
  2. David Altig & Steve J. Davis, 1991. "Borrowing Constraints and Two-Sided Altruism With an Application to Social Security," NBER Working Papers 3913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Altig, 1990. "The case of the missing interest deductions: will tax reform increase U. S. saving rates?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 22-34.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence Kotlikoff, 1995. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. MICHEL, Ph. & PESTIEAU, P., . "Fiscal policy in a growth model with both altruistic and nonaltruistic agents," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1301, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Nzinga Broussard & Ralph Chami & Gregory Hess, 2003. "(Why) Do Self-Employed Parents Have More Children?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1103, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Miljkovic, Dragan, 2000. "Optimal timing in the problem of family farm transfer from parent to child: an option value approach," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 543-552, April.
  8. Donald Cox & Zekeriya Eser & Emmanuel Jimenez, 1996. "Motives for Private Transfers over the Life Cycle: An Analytical Framework and Evidence for Peru," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 327., Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. David Altig, 1992. "An ebbing tide lowers all boats: monetary policy, inflation, and social justice," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 14-22.
  10. Emanuela Cardia & Serena Ng, 2003. "Intergenerational Time Transfers and Childcare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), pages 431-454, April.
  11. Robin Boadway & David Wildasin, 1994. "Taxation and savings: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 19-63, August.
  12. Smetters, Kent, 1999. "Ricardian equivalence: long-run Leviathan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 395-421, September.
  13. Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul Willen, 2006. "Borrowing Costs and the Demand for Equity over the Life Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 348-362, May.
  14. Mishra, Ashok K. & El-Osta, Hisham S. & Johnson, James D., 2004. "Succession In Family Farm Business: Empirical Evidence From The U.S. Farm Sector," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20114, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  15. Daniel Barczyk, 2013. "Deficits, Gifts, and Bequests," 2013 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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