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Altruism and self-refrain


  • de la Croix, David

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) ; Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS))

  • Michel, Philippe

    (Université de la Méditerranée, IUF; GREQAM, Marseille)


We address the issue of altruism when standard-of-living aspirations are transmitted from one generation to the other. In that case, the influence of altruistic parents is not limited to the bequest they could leave; indeed, they direct the evolution of children's aspirations toward raising their utility by refraining their own consumption standard. We show that, even if there is no bequest, altruism always increases capital accumulation and has a stabilizing effect on the economy. In an example nesting the Barro-Weil model, bequests can be positive even if this is never the case in the Barro-Weil economy. It is possible for an economy to experience regime shifts along the convergence path to the steady state.

Suggested Citation

  • de la Croix, David & Michel, Philippe, 1997. "Altruism and self-refrain," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 1998010, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES), revised 00 Apr 1998.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:1998010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Gary S, 1992. "Habits, Addictions, and Traditions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 327-345.
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    3. Abel, Andrew B, 1987. "Operative Gift and Bequest Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1037-1047, December.
    4. 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..
    5. Jouvet, Pierre-Andre & Michel, Philippe & Vidal, Jean-Pierre, 2000. " Intergenerational Altruism and the Environment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 135-150, March.
    6. Boucekkine, Raouf, 1995. "An alternative methodology for solving nonlinear forward-looking models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 711-734, May.
    7. Easterlin, Richard A, 1971. "Does Human Fertility Adjust to the Environment?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 399-407, May.
    8. Alex Michalos, 1980. "Satisfaction and happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 385-422, December.
    9. Weil, Philippe, 1987. "Love thy children : Reflections on the Barro debt neutrality theorem," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 377-391, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Caballé & Ana I. Moro Egido, 2008. "The Effect of Aspirations, Habits, and Social Security on the Distribution of Wealth," ThE Papers 08/02, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    2. Cardia, Emanuela & Michel, Philippe, 2004. "Altruism, intergenerational transfers of time and bequests," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1681-1701, June.
    3. Rapoport, Hillel & Vidal, Jean-Pierre, 2007. "Economic growth and endogenous intergenerational altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1231-1246, August.
    4. Alonso-Carrera, Jaime & Caballé, Jordi & Raurich, Xavier, 2008. "Estate taxes, consumption externalities, and altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1751-1764, July.
    5. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2007. "Aspirations, Habit Formation, and Bequest Motive," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 813-836, April.
    6. de la Croix, David, 2001. "Growth dynamics and education spending: The role of inherited tastes and abilities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1415-1438, August.
    7. de la Croix, David, 2000. "Standard-of-Living Aspirations and Economic Cycles," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2000008, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

    More about this item


    altruism; habits; catching-up; regime shift;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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