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Equal Bequests and Parental Altruism: Compatibility or Orthogonality?


  • Stark, Oded

    (Department of Economics, University of Oslo)


The large amount of equal division of bequests by parents who otherwise would have compensated the earning differences among their children is attributed to the cost associated with unequal bequests. This paper identifies a source of this cost and explains why equal bequests to children whose earnings differ, and parental altruism toward these children, are not mutually exclusive.

Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded, 1998. "Equal Bequests and Parental Altruism: Compatibility or Orthogonality?," Economics Series 54, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ihs:ihsesp:54

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wilhelm, Mark O, 1996. "Bequest Behavior and the Effect of Heirs' Earnings: Testing the Altruistic Model of Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 874-892, September.
    2. Dunn, Thomas A. & Phillips, John W., 1997. "The timing and division of parental transfers to children," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 135-137, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stark, Oded & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Counter-compensatory inter-vivos transfers and parental altruism: compatibility or orthogonality?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 19-25, January.
    2. Francois-Charles Wolff & Seymour Spilerman & Claudine Attias-Donfut, 2005. "Do Parents Help More their Less Well-Off Children? Evidence from a Sample of Migrants to France," Microeconomics 0504001, EconWPA.
    3. Yang-Ming Chang, 2012. "Strategic transfers, redistributive fiscal policies, and family bonds: a micro-economic analysis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 1481-1502, October.
    4. Yang-Ming Chang, 2007. "Transfers and bequests: a portfolio analysis in a Nash game," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 277-295, March.
    5. Elin Halvorsen & Thor O. Thoresen, 2011. "Parents' Desire to Make Equal Inter Vivos Transfers," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(1), pages 121-155, March.
    6. Lundholm, Michael & Ohlsson, Henry, 2000. "Post mortem reputation, compensatory gifts and equal bequests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 165-171, August.
    7. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2000. "Bequests, Inter Vivos Transfers, and Wealth Distribution: Technical Paper 2000-8," Working Papers 13332, Congressional Budget Office.
    8. Peters, Heiko & Schwarz, Peter, 2013. "Bequests and labor supply in Germany," TranState Working Papers 173, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.
    9. Yang-Ming Chang & Zijun Luo, 2015. "Endogenous division rules as a family constitution: strategic altruistic transfers and sibling competition," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 173-194, January.
    10. Charles Horioka, 2014. "Are Americans and Indians more altruistic than the Japanese and Chinese? Evidence from a new international survey of bequest plans," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 411-437, September.
    11. Jellal, Mohamed & Wolff, Francois-Charles, 2007. "Gifts, bequests and family incentives," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(3), pages 313-318, March.
    12. Ramon L. Clarete & Ernesto M. Pernia & Ammielou Gaduena & Adrian Mendoza, 2014. "The Role of Science, Technology and Research in Economic Development," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201407, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
    13. Roger Faith & Brian Goff & Robert Tollison, 2008. "Bequests, sibling rivalry, and rent seeking," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 397-409, September.
    14. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2014. "Why Do People Leave Bequests? For Love or Self-Interest? Evidence from a New International Survey of Bequest Plans," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201406, University of the Philippines School of Economics.

    More about this item


    Parental Altruism; Equal Bequests;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers


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