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Actual and Anticipated Inheritance Receipts


  • Norma B. Coe
  • Anthony Webb


Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we compare actual inheritances received during the period 1994 to 2004 with the amounts that, in 1994, households anticipated receiving within 10 years. We find little evidence of systematic forecasting errors. The factors affecting inheritance receipt also affect expectation formation. Although the distribution is highly skewed, inheritances are generally modest in amount and uncorrelated with lifetime income, and therefore have almost no effect on various measures of inequality. We find no evidence that households anticipating receipt of an inheritance save less than that of similar households, although this could reflect unobserved heterogeneity in tastes for saving.

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  • Norma B. Coe & Anthony Webb, 2009. "Actual and Anticipated Inheritance Receipts," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-32, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2009-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
    2. Martin Browning & Pierre-André Chiappori & Arthur Lewbel, 2013. "Estimating Consumption Economies of Scale, Adult Equivalence Scales, and Household Bargaining Power," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1267-1303.
    3. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
    4. Alicia H. Munnell & Francesca Golub-Sass & Dan Muldoon, 2009. "An Update on 401(k) Plans: Insights From the 2007 SCF," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-5, Center for Retirement Research, revised Mar 2009.
    5. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2006. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 607-643, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Norma B. Coe & Gopi Shah Goda & Courtney Harold Van Houtven, 2015. "Family Spillovers of Long-Term Care Insurance," NBER Working Papers 21483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alicia Munnell & Jean-Pierre Aubry & Joshua Hurwitz & Laura Quinby, 2012. "Public Plans and Short-Term Employees," NBER Working Papers 18448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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