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The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation

  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • Lawrence H. Summers

This paper uses historicaI U.S. data to directly estimate the contribution of intergenerational transfers to aggregate capital accumulation. The evidence presented indicates that intergenerational transfers account for the vast majority of aggregate U .S. capital formation; only a negligible fraction of actual capital accumulation can be traced u, life-cycle or "hump" savings. A major difference between this study and previous investigations of this issue is the use of more accurate longitudinal age-earnings and age-consumption profiles. These profiles are simply too flat to generate substantial lifecycle savings. This paper suggests the importance of and need for substantially greater research and data collection on intergenerational transfers. fife-cycle models of savings that emphasize savings for retirement as the dominant form of apical accumulation should give way to models that illuminate the determinants of intergenerational transfers.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0445.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0445.

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Date of creation: Feb 1980
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Publication status: published as Kotlikoff, Laurence J. and Summers, Lawrence H. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation." Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 89, No. 4, (August 1981), pp. 706-732.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0445
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  1. Diamond, Peter A., 1970. "Incidence of an interest income tax," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 211-224, September.
  2. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-43, June.
  3. Guillermo A. Galvo & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Carlos Alfredo Rodriguez, 1978. "The Incidence of a Tax on Pure Rent: A New Reason for an Old Answer," UCLA Economics Working Papers 125, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. 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..
  5. Christensen, Laurits R, 1971. "Entrepreneurial Income: How Does It Measure Up?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 575-85, September.
  6. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "Social Security and Equilibrium Capital Intensity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 233-53, May.
  7. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
  8. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  9. Simon Kuznets & Lillian Epstein & Elizabeth Jenks, 1941. "National Income and Its Composition, 1919-1938, Volume I," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn41-1, May.
  10. Atkinson, A B, 1971. "The Distribution of Wealth and the Individual Life-cycle," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 239-54, July.
  11. Walter Dolde & James Tobin, 1971. "Wealth, Liquidity, and Consumption," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 311, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  12. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1979. "Tax Incidence in a Life Cycle Model with Variable Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 705-18, November.
  13. Oulton, Nicholas, 1976. "Inheritance and the Distribution of Wealth," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 86-101, March.
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