IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Tax Incentives, Bequest Motives, and the Demand for Life Insurance: Evidence from two Natural Experiments in Germany

  • Nicolas Sauter
  • Jan Walliser
  • Joachim Winter

Whole life insurance plays an important role in household saving. However, empirical evidence on its determinants is scarce. This paper studies two natural experiments to identify the effects of tax incentives and bequest motives on life-insurance demand. An unanticipated tax reform in 2000 halved the tax exemption limit for capital income in Germany. We document that the demand for life insurance reacted strongly to this change. With regard to bequest motives, we analyze the demand for life insurance in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Relative to market-based economies, the socialist GDR can be viewed as an experimental institutional setting where life-insurance demand was not influenced by tax considerations which allows us to isolate bequest motives while controlling for life-cycle and precautionary motives. We find a significantly higher ownership probability among households with children and a high regard for the family, confirming bequest motives in life-insurance demand.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3040.

in new window

Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3040
Contact details of provider: Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S151-82, July.
  2. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2007. "To Leave or Not to Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 207-235.
  3. Sule Alan & Kadir Atalay & Thomas F. Crossley & Sung-Hee Jeon, 2009. "New Evidence on Taxes and Portfolio Choice," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 431, McMaster University.
  4. Hochguertel, Stefan & Alessie, Rob & van Soest, Arthur, 1997. " Saving Accounts versus Stocks and Bonds in Household Portfolio Allocation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 81-97, March.
  5. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
  6. Fischer, Stanley, 1973. "A Life Cycle Model of Life Insurance Purchases," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(1), pages 132-52, February.
  7. Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Identification and Inference in Nonlinear Difference-in-Differences Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 431-497, 03.
  8. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2549, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Puhani, Patrick A., 2012. "The treatment effect, the cross difference, and the interaction term in nonlinear “difference-in-differences” models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 85-87.
  10. King, Mervyn A. & Leape, Jonathan I., 1998. "Wealth and portfolio composition: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 155-193, June.
  11. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  12. John Laitner & F. Thomas Juster, 1993. "New evidence on altruism: a study of TIAA-CREF retirees," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 86, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. James Banks & Tanner, S, 2000. "Household portfolios in the UK," IFS Working Papers W00/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  14. Poterba, James M. & Samwick, Andrew A., 2003. "Taxation and household portfolio composition: US evidence from the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 5-38, January.
  15. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
  16. Sule Alan & Søren Leth-Petersen, 2006. "Tax Incentives and Household Portfolios: A Panel Data Analysis," CAM Working Papers 2006-13, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  17. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
  18. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-58, October.
  19. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2007. "Do people respond to tax incentives? An analysis of the Italian reform of the deductibility of home mortgage interests," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 247-271, February.
  20. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  21. Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln & Matthias Schundeln, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and Self-Selection - Evidence from the German Reunification "Experiment"," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2069, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  22. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2001. "Tax Incentives and the Demand for Life Insurance: Evidence from Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2787, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Lewis, Frank D, 1989. "Dependents and the Demand for Life Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 452-67, June.
  24. James M. Poterba & Arturo Ramirez Verdugo, 2008. "Portfolio Substitution and the Revenue Cost of Exempting State and Local Government Interest Payments from Federal Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 14439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Agell, Jonas & Edin, Per-Anders, 1990. " Marginal Taxes and the Asset Portfolios of Swedish Households," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 92(1), pages 47-64.
  26. Jurges, Hendrik, 2001. " Do Germans Save to Leave an Estate? An Examination of the Bequest Motive," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(3), pages 391-414, September.
  27. Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln & Matthias Schündeln, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and Self-Selection: Evidence from the German Reunification "Experiment"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1085-1120, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3040. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Julio Saavedra)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.