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To leave or not to leave: the distribution of bequest motives

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  • Wojciech Kopczuk
  • Joseph P. Lupton

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the effect of observed and unobserved heterogeneity in the desire to die with positive net worth. Using a structural life-cycle model nested in a switching regression with unknown sample separation, we find that roughly 70 percent of the elderly single population has a bequest motive that may or may not be active depending on the level of resources at a given age. Both the presence and the magnitude of the bequest motive are statistically and economically significant. All else being equal, households with an operative bequest motive spend between $4,000 and $9,000 a year less on consumption expenditures on average. We conclude that, among the elderly single households in our sample, approximately half of bequeathed wealth will be due to a bequest motive.

Suggested Citation

  • Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2004. "To leave or not to leave: the distribution of bequest motives," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-33
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inheritance and succession;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • 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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