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

Altruism, Exchange or Indirect Reciprocity: What do the Data on Family Transfers Show?

  • Luc Arrondel
  • André Masson

Most models of family transfers consider only two generations and focus on two motives : altruism and exchange. They also assume perfect substitution between inter vivos financial transfers and bequests to children. On the contrary, this survey of recent developments in the literature emphasizes the strong heterogeneity of downward financial transfers and motives for these transfers over the life-cycle. In face of the empirical failure of standard models in developed countries (these models may perform better in less developed countries or in old Europe), it also advocates "mixed" motivations of transfers, such as strategic altruism, models with endogenous heterogeneous behavioral regimes (Becker, Cigno), and especially indirect reciprocities between three generations, which lead to the replication of the same type of transfer from one generation to the next. Indirect reciprocities appear able to accommodate several empirical puzzles : they are thus compatible (against altruism) with small compensatory effects of transfers both between and within generations, and (against exchange) with the lack of parents' observable counterpart to financial or time support given by their children. They also predict "3rd generation effects" - transfers between parents and children being determined by grandparents' transfers or again grandchildren's characteristics - which appear corroborated by (mainly French or U.S.) available evidence. We thus face the challenge of innovative modelling of indirect reciprocities within the framework of individual forward-looking rationality.

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:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify ()

Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure) in its series DELTA Working Papers with number 2002-18.

in new window

Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:del:abcdef:2002-18
Contact details of provider: Postal: 48 boulevard Jourdan - 75014 Paris
Phone: 01 43 13 63 00
Fax: 01 43 13 63 10
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

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:del:abcdef:2002-18. 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: ()

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.