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Altruism and the Care of Elderly Parents: Evidence from Japanese Families


  • Miki Kohara
  • Fumio Ohtake


This paper analyzes what adult children would do for their parents were they frail and in need of long-term care. Focusing on the special case of parents' illness, the paper then investigates altruism in Japanese children. Descriptive statistics show that about 30% of adult children living separately from their parents provide long-term in-home care, which suggests that a significant number of Japanese children supply care. However, detailed examination reveals that this parental care is not motivated entirely by altruism. We show that children provide parental care when their parents are wealthy enough to meet the costs of nursing.

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  • Miki Kohara & Fumio Ohtake, 2006. "Altruism and the Care of Elderly Parents: Evidence from Japanese Families," ISER Discussion Paper 0670, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  • Handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0670

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schoeni, Robert F, 1997. "Private Interhousehold Transfers of Money and Time: New Empirical Evidence," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(4), pages 423-448, December.
    2. Hoerger, Thomas J & Picone, Gabriel A & Sloan, Frank A, 1996. "Public Subsidies, Private Provision of Care and Living Arrangements of the Elderly," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(3), pages 428-440, August.
    3. Liliana E. Pezzin & Barbara Steinberg Schone, 1999. "Intergenerational Household Formation, Female Labor Supply and Informal Caregiving: A Bargaining Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 475-503.
    4. Cox, Donald & Rank, Mark R, 1992. "Inter-vivos Transfers and Intergenerational Exchange," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 305-314, May.
    5. 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 151-182, July.
    6. Ohtake, F., 1991. "Bequest Motives of Aged Households in Japan," ISER Discussion Paper 0249, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    7. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-467, June.
    8. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-546, June.
    9. Hayashi, Fumio, 1995. "Is the Japanese Extended Family Altruistically Linked? A Test Based on Engel Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 661-674, June.
    10. Pezzin, Liliana E & Schone, Barbara Steinberg, 1997. "The Allocation of Resources in Intergenerational Households: Adult Children and Their Elderly Parents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 460-464, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & Steven Laufer & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2007. "The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives," NBER Working Papers 13105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Aoki, Takaaki, 2008. "On the Implications of Two-way Altruism in Human-Capital-Based OLG Model," MPRA Paper 12492, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Yukawa, Shiho, 2012. "女性の賃金が親への介護行動に与える影響
      [The Effect of Women's Wage on Elderly Care]
      ," MPRA Paper 35801, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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