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Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence

  • Joseph G. Altonji
  • Fumio Hayashi
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

This paper uses PSID data on the ex-tended family to test whether intervivos transfers from parents to children are motivated by altruism. Specifically, the paper tests whether an increase by one dollar in the income of parents actively making transfers to a child coupled with a one dollar reduction in that child's income results in the parents increasing their transfer to the child by one dollar. This restriction on parental and child transfer-income derivatives is derived for the standard altruism model augmented to include uncertain and liquidity constraints. These additional elements pin down the timing of inter vivos transfers. The paper's method of estimating income-transfer derivatives takes into account unobserved heterogeneity across relies in the degree of altruism. The findings strongly reject the altruism hypothesis. Redistributing one dollar from a recipient child to donor parents leads to less than a 13 cent increase in the parents' transfer to the child -- far less than the one dollar increase implied by altruism.

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Paper provided by Boston University, Institute for Economic Development in its series Boston University - Institute for Economic Development with number 65.

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Date of creation: Oct 1995
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Handle: RePEc:fth:bosecd:65
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  1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  2. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Assaf Razin & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1988. "A Strategic Altruism Model In Which Ricardian Equivalence Does Not Hold," NBER Working Papers 2699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David Altig & Steve J. Davis, 1989. "The timing of intergenerational transfers, tax policy, and aggregate savings," Working Paper 8917, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  5. Ted Bergstrom, 1995. "A Survey of Theories of the Family," Papers _027, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
  6. Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Bernheim, B. Douglas, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Scholarly Articles 3721794, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Avia Spivak, 1979. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," UCLA Economics Working Papers 151, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Blinder, Alan S, 1976. "Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 87-93, May.
  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 661-74, June.
  10. IOANNIDES , Yannis & KAN , Kamhon, 1994. "The Nature of Two-Direction Intergenerational Transfers of Money and Time : An Empirical Analysis," CORE Discussion Papers 1994033, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  11. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1992. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1177-98, December.
  12. Sebastian Edwards & Miguel Savastano, 1988. "Latin America's Intraregional Trade: Evolution and Future Prospects," NBER Working Papers 2738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Blundell, Richard & Meghir, Costas, 1987. "Bivariate alternatives to the Tobit model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 179-200.
  14. Cox, Donald, 1990. "Intergenerational Transfers and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 187-217, February.
  15. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  16. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  17. Drazen, Allan, 1978. "Government Debt, Human Capital, and Bequests in a Life-Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 505-16, June.
  18. Cox, Donald & Rank, Mark R, 1992. "Inter-vivos Transfers and Intergenerational Exchange," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 305-14, May.
  19. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  20. Menchik, Paul L, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U. S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316, March.
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