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The Strength and Nature of Bequest Motives in the United States


  • Yoon G. Lee & Charles Yuji Horioka


In this paper, we analyze the strength and nature of bequest motives in the United States using data from the 2000 Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The results of our analysis suggest that bequest motives are very strong in the United States and that they are altruistically motivated. This suggests that the altruism (or dynasty) model applies in the United States and that the selfish life cycle model does not apply. Moreover, our results also suggest that older, wealthier, married, more highly educated, Caucasian, healthy, and non-religious individuals are more likely to leave a bequest than other individuals.

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  • Yoon G. Lee & Charles Yuji Horioka, 2004. "The Strength and Nature of Bequest Motives in the United States," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 675, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:675

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    Cited by:

    1. Signe-Mary McKernan & Caroline Ratcliffe & Margaret Simms & Sisi Zhang, 2014. "Do Racial Disparities in Private Transfers Help Explain the Racial Wealth Gap? New Evidence From Longitudinal Data," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(3), pages 949-974, June.

    More about this item


    Bequests; Bequest Motives; Altruism; Life Cycle Model; Household Behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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