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Intergenerational Transfers, Aging, and Uncertainty

In: Advances in the Economics of Aging

  • David N. Weil

Research on intergenerational transmission of wealth has pointed to uncertainty -- about the date of one's own death, for example -- as a potential source of significant bequest flows. In this paper I examine the effects of this same uncertainty on the behavior of those who expect to receive bequests. Potential heirs who are prudent will consume less than would be warranted by the size of their expected bequests, and so on average consumption will rise at the age when actual bequests are received. I examine the effect of this uncertainty on the outcome of population aging. Population aging, by changing the relative sizes of the bequeathing generation and those receiving bequests, raises the average size of bequests received and reduces the saving of the bequest-receiving generation. I show that accounting for the effects of uncertainty slows down the reduction in saving that results from population aging.

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This chapter was published in:
  • David A. Wise, 1996. "Advances in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise96-1, September.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7330.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7330
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    1. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Precautionary Saving and Accidental Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 777-91, September.
    2. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David N. Weil, 1992. "The Increasing Annuitization of the Elderly- Estimates and Implications for Intergenerational Tranfers, Inequality, and National Saving," NBER Working Papers 4182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Angus Deaton, 1989. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 3196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
    5. Robert B. Barsky & N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1984. "Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities," NBER Working Papers 1400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Robert P. Hagemann & Giuseppe Nicoletti, 1989. "The Economic Dynamics of an Ageing Population: The Case of Four OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 62, OECD Publishing.
    7. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hubbard, R Glenn & Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "Social Security and Individual Welfare: Precautionary Saving, Borrowing Constraints, and the Payroll Tax," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 630-46, September.
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