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Bequests as a Means of Payment

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Andrei Shleifer
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

Although recent research suggests that intergenerational transfers play an important role in aggregate capital accumulation, our understanding of bequest motives remains incomplete. We develop a simple model of"exchange-motivated" bequests, in which a testator influences the decisions ofhis beneficiaries by holding wealth in bequeathable forms and by conditioning the division of bequests on the beneficiaries' actions. The model generates falsifiable empirical predictions which are inconsistent with other theories of intergenerational transfers. We present econometric and other evidence which strongly suggests that bequests are often used as a means of payment for services rendered by beneficiaries.

Suggested Citation

  • B. Douglas Bernheim & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Bequests as a Means of Payment," NBER Working Papers 1303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1303
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
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    1. Axel Borsch-Supan & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & John N. Morris, 1992. "The Provision of Time to the Elderly by Their Children," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in the Economics of Aging, pages 109-134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1988. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 41-58, Spring.
    3. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "Annuity Prices and Saving Behavior in the United States," NBER Working Papers 1683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving after Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 237-280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Rodrigo J. Raad & Gilvan R. Guedes, 2014. "Bequest choices under uncertainty," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 504, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
    7. Feldstein, Martin, 1988. "The Effects of Fiscal Policies when Incomes Are Uncertain: A Contradiction to Ricardian Equivalence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 14-23, March.
    8. Eichenbaum, Martin S & Peled, Dan, 1987. "Capital Accumulation and Annuities in an Adverse Selection Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 334-354, April.
    9. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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