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Savings and Bequests

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  • Michael D. Hurd

Abstract

Empirical studies have indicated that the elderly seem to accumulate wealth after retirement, and that the desire to leave bequests is an important determinent of saving behavior, both kinds of results have cast doubt on the validity of the life cycle hypothesis of consumption. In the first part of this paper, a model of bequests is specified, and the implications for consumption and wealth trajectories are derived. The main result is that, even with a bequest motive, consumption generally decreases with age after retirement, and that wealth will also decrease for all but wealthy households. In the empirical part of the paper, wealth changes of retired households are reported over 10 years of panel data. Contrary to many results from cross-section data, the elderly do dissave: over 10 years the wealth of the elderly in the sample decreases by about 27 real. A test for a bequest motive is proposed. There is no evidence whatsoever for abequest motive.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd, 1986. "Savings and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1826
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    Cited by:

    1. Impavido, Gregorio & Thorburn, Craig & Wadsworth, Mike, 2004. "A conceptual framework for retirement products : Risk sharing arrangements between providers and retirees," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3208, The World Bank.
    2. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2002. "The Impact of Social Security and Other Factors on the Distribution of Wealth," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 85-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Francis, Johanna L., 2009. "Wealth and the capitalist spirit," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 394-408, September.
    4. Christopher D Carroll, 1997. "Why Do the Rich Save So Much?," Economics Working Paper Archive 388, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    5. Michael J. Boskin, 1987. "Concepts and Measures of Federal Deficits and Debt and Their Impact on Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 2332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gokhale, Jagadeesh & Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Sefton, James & Weale, Martin, 2001. "Simulating the transmission of wealth inequality via bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 93-128, January.
    7. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1989. "Aging, Moving, and Housing Wealth," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Aging, pages 9-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Boskin, Michael J., 1987. "Concepts and Measures of Federal Deficits and Debt and their Impact on Economic Activity," CEPR Publications 244437, Stanford University, Center for Economic Policy Research.
    9. Heng-fu Zou, 1995. "The spirit of capitalism and savings behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 131-143, September.

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