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The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives

Author

Listed:
  • John Ameriks
  • Andrew Caplin
  • Steven Laufer
  • Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Abstract

Strong bequest motives can explain low retirement spending, but so equally can strong precautionary motives. Given this identification problem, the recent tradition has been largely to ignore bequest motives. We develop a rich model of spending in retirement that allows for both motives, and introduce a "Medicaid aversion" parameter that plays a key role in determining precautionary savings. We implement a "strategic" survey to resolve the identification problem between bequest and precautionary motives. We find that strong bequest motives are too prevalent to be ignored. Moreover, Medicaid aversion is widespread, and helps explain the low spending of many middle class retirees.

Suggested Citation

  • John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & Steven Laufer & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2007. "The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives," NBER Working Papers 13105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13105
    Note: AG AP CH EFG HC LS PE
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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