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The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children

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  • Joseph G. Altonji
  • Ernesto Villanueva

Abstract

We examine how much of an extra dollar of parental lifetime resources will ultimately be passed on to adult children in the form of inter vivos transfers and bequests. We infer bequests from the stock of wealth late in life. We use mortality rates and age specific estimates of the response of transfers and wealth to permanent income to compute the expected present discounted values of these responses to permanent income. Our estimates imply that parents pass on between 2 and 3 cents out of an extra dollar of expected lifetime resources in bequests and about 2 cents in transfers. The estimates increase with parental income and are smaller for nonwhites. They imply that about 15 percent of the effect of parental income on lifetime resources of adult children is through transfers and bequests and about 85 percent is through the intergenerational correlation in earnings, although these estimates are sensitive to assumptions about the intergenerational earnings correlation, taxes, and the number of children. We compare our estimates to the implications of alternative computable benchmark models of savings behavior in order to assess the likely importance of intended bequests for the wealth/income relationship.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9811.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9811

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Cited by:
  1. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2009. "Envy And Inequality," Departmental Working Papers 2009-03, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  2. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Van Long, Ngo, 2011. "The relative income hypothesis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1489-1501, September.
  3. Ernesto Villanueva, 2005. "Inter vivos transfers and bequests in three OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 20(43), pages 505-565, 07.
  4. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & El-Attar, Mayssun, 2012. "Income Inequality and Saving," IZA Discussion Papers 7083, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2006. "Wealth Inequality: Data and Models," NBER Working Papers 12550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2008. "A Permanent Income Version of the Relative Income Hypothesis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2361, CESifo Group Munich.

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