IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Will writing and bequest motives: early 20th century Irish evidence

  • Leslie McGranahan
Registered author(s):

    This paper develops a simple model of the decision to write a will prior to death and tests the implications of the model using data from Ireland prior to the advent of state provided old age support. The model assumes that individuals write wills in order to change the distribution of their assets from the distribution that would occur in the absence of a will and that individuals incur will writing costs. The model leads to the predictions that individuals whose desired distribution differs most dramatically from the default and those who face the lowest costs will be the most likely to write wills. A data set that matches individual Irish estate records from 1901 to 1905 to household records from the 1901 Irish Census is used to test these implications. I find that age, wealth, and landholding influence will writing. I also find that individuals, particularly women and non-landholders, who appear to be dependent on others in old age are more likely to write wills. This result suggests that will writers may be writing wills in order to repay the relatives who provided for them in old age and is consistent with a strategic bequest motive. The data provide little evidence that the characteristics of potential beneficiaries influence the will writing decision. In contrast to studies using modern data that find little evidence of altruistic or strategic bequest motives, I find some evidence that exchange motives partly governed the will writing decision.

    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: http://www.chicagofed.org/digital_assets/publications/working_papers/2006/wp2006_18.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-06-18.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-18
    Contact details of provider: Postal: P.O. Box 834, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-0834
    Phone: 312/322-5111
    Fax: 312/322-5515
    Web page: http://www.chicagofed.org/
    Email:


    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Web: http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/publications/print_publication_order_form.cfm Email:


    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Wilhelm, M.O., 1990. "Bequest Behavior And The Effect Of Heirs' Earnings: Testing The Altruistic Model Of Bequests," Papers 9-90-12, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
    2. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
    3. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
    4. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    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:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-18. 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: (Bernie Flores)

    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.