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Wealth accumulation motives: evidence from the probate records of Ontario, 1892 and 1902

  • Livio Di Matteo

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada, P7B 5E1)

The wealth of male decedents using census-linked probate records from 1892 and 1902 is examined for evidence on saving motives. This data presents an opportunity to examine wealth holding and saving motives in an environment devoid of many of the features that can affect modern retirement, consumption and saving decisions. Evidence is found supporting the existence of a strategic bequest motive. This result occurs after controlling for the possibility of the demand for children rising with the level of wealth as well as the potential contribution to wealth accumulation that children made in agricultural economies. These results also suggest that while the presence of a bequest motive was real and significant, its ultimate contribution to wealth accumulation was relatively modest when compared to the impact of variables such as occupational status and literacy. Moreover, there appears to be some evidence supporting a transition in saving motives away from bequest saving and towards greater life cycle saving.

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Article provided by Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC) in its journal Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History.

Volume (Year): 2 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 143-171

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Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:2:y:2008:i:2:p:143-171
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