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The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation

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  • Kotlikoff, Laurence J
  • Summers, Lawrence H

Abstract

This paper uses historicaI U.S. data to directly estimate the contribution of intergenerational transfers to aggregate capital accumulation. The evidence presented indicates that intergenerational transfers account for the vast majority of aggregate U .S. capital formation; only a negligible fraction of actual capital accumulation can be traced u, life-cycle or "hump" savings. A major difference between this study and previous investigations of this issue is the use of more accurate longitudinal age-earnings and age-consumption profiles. These profiles are simply too flat to generate substantial lifecycle savings. This paper suggests the importance of and need for substantially greater research and data collection on intergenerational transfers. fife-cycle models of savings that emphasize savings for retirement as the dominant form of apical accumulation should give way to models that illuminate the determinants of intergenerational transfers.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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 706-732, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:89:y:1981:i:4:p:706-32
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Calvo, Guillermo A & Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Rodriguez, Carlos Alfredo, 1979. "The Incidence of a Tax on Pure Rent: A New (?) Reason for an Old Answer," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 869-874, August.
    2. Simon Kuznets & Lillian Epstein & Elizabeth Jenks, 1946. "National Income and Its Composition, 1919-1938, Volume II," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn41-3.
    3. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    4. Christensen, Laurits R, 1971. "Entrepreneurial Income: How Does It Measure Up?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 575-585, September.
    5. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1979. "Social Security and Equilibrium Capital Intensity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 233-253.
    7. Walter Dolde & James Tobin, 1971. "Wealth, Liquidity, and Consumption," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 311, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Diamond, Peter A., 1970. "Incidence of an interest income tax," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 211-224, September.
    9. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-560, September.
    10. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Tax Incidence in a Life Cycle Model with Variable Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 705-718.
    11. Oulton, Nicholas, 1976. "Inheritance and the Distribution of Wealth," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 86-101, March.
    12. Atkinson, A B, 1971. "The Distribution of Wealth and the Individual Life-cycle," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 239-254, July.
    13. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-443, June.
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