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Planned and Unplanned Bequests

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  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Paul L. Menchik

Abstract

We make the distinction between bequests that are planned as part of some lifetime optimization stemming from a bequest motive, and those that are unplanned and result when the date of death differs from what the consumer might forecast. Lifetime optimization should lead to a negative effect or no effect of the expected horizon on the size of the bequest, and to a negative relation between unexpectedly long life and the bequest. Using data on wealthy decedents and their parents, we form measures of the expected horizon based on parents' longevity. There is no relation between unexpectedly early or late death and the bequest, but a significant positive relation between the bequest and the length of the horizon. Several explanations for this unforeseen result are offered, including the inference that uncertainty about length of life is important in studying bequest behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh & Paul L. Menchik, 1984. "Planned and Unplanned Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1496
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-577, June.
    2. Nagatani, Keizo, 1972. "Life Cycle Saving: Theory and Fact," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 344-353, June.
    3. Menchik, Paul L, 1979. "Inter-generational Transmission of Inequality: An Empirical Study of Wealth Mobility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(184), pages 349-362, November.
    4. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-732, August.
    5. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Enrique Fatas & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2007. "An Experimental Test On Retirement Decisions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 602-614, July.
    2. Page, Benjamin R., 2003. "Bequest taxes, inter vivos gifts, and the bequest motive," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1219-1229, May.
    3. Rainer Winkelmann, 2002. "Subjektive Daten in der empirischen Wirtschaftsforschung: Probleme und Perspektiven," SOI - Working Papers 0207, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich, revised Jul 2002.
    4. Gan, Li & Gong, Guan & Hurd, Michael & McFadden, Daniel, 2015. "Subjective mortality risk and bequests," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 188(2), pages 514-525.
    5. André Masson & Pierre Pestieau, 1991. "Tests des modèles d'héritage : un inventaire critique," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 100(4), pages 73-92.
    6. Pecchenino, R.A. & Pollard, P.S., 1999. "Government Mandated Private Pensions: A Dependable Foundation for Retirement Security?," Papers 9902, Michigan State - Econometrics and Economic Theory.
    7. Issing, Otmar, 2012. "Central banks: Paradise lost," CFS Working Paper Series 2012/06, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    8. Patricia S. Pollard & Rowena A. Pecchenino, 1998. "The transition from a-pay-as-you-go to a fully-funded Social Security System: is there a role for social insurance?," Working Papers 1997-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    9. Luc Arrondel & Cyril Grange, 2014. "Bequests and family traditions: the case of nineteenth century France," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 439-459, September.
    10. Otmar Issing, 2012. "Central Banks - Paradise Lost," IMES Discussion Paper Series 12-E-10, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
    11. Enrique Fatás & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco M. Lagos & Ana I. Moro, 2008. "Experimental tests on consumption, savings and pensions," ThE Papers 08/14, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    12. Pecchenino, Rowena A & Pollard, Patricia S, 1997. "The Effects of Annuities, Bequests, and Aging in an Overlapping Generations Model of Endogenous Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 26-46, January.
    13. Enrique Fatás & Juan Lacomba & Francisco Lagos & Ana Moro-Egido, 2013. "An experimental test on dynamic consumption and lump-sum pensions," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 393-413, November.

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