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Dynamic Aspects of Family Transfers

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  • Kathleen McGarry

Abstract

Each year parents transfer a great deal of money to their adult children. While intuition might suggest that these transfers are altruistic and made out of concern for the well-being of the children, empirical tests of the model have consistently yielded negative results. However, an important limitation in these sorts of studies and of our understanding of transfers in general has stemmed our inability to observe transfers over time. Estimates of patterns in a single cross section necessarily miss important aspects of behavior. In this paper I expand on the static altruistic model and posit a dynamic model in which parents use current observations on the incomes of their children to update their expectations regarding future incomes and desired future transfers. I then draw on data spanning a 17 year period to examine the dynamic aspects of transfer behavior. I find substantial change across periods in recipiency, large differences across children within the family, and a strong negative correlation between inter vivos transfers and the transitory incomes of the recipients. This evidence suggests that dynamic models can provide insights into transfer behavior that are impossible to obtain in a static context.

Suggested Citation

  • Kathleen McGarry, 2012. "Dynamic Aspects of Family Transfers," NBER Working Papers 18446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18446
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cox, Donald & Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Credit Rationing and Private Transfers: Evidence from Survey Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(3), pages 445-454, August.
    2. McGarry, Kathleen, 2001. "The cost of equality: unequal bequests and tax avoidance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 179-204, January.
    3. Joulfaian, David, 2005. "Choosing between gifts and bequests: How taxes affect the timing of wealth transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2069-2091, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s00148-018-0698-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Orazio Attanasio & Costas Meghir & Corina Mommaerts, 2015. "Insurance in extended family networks," NBER Working Papers 21059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:red:issued:14-279 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. McGarry, Kathleen, 2016. "Dynamic aspects of family transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 1-13.
    5. Erixson, Oscar & Ohlsson, Henry, 2014. "Estate division: Equal sharing as choice, social norm, and legal requirement," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    6. HAMAAKI Junya & HORI Masahiro & MURATA Keiko, 2016. "The Intra-Family Division of Bequests and Bequest Motives: Empirical Evidence from a Survey on Japanese Households," ESRI Discussion paper series 333, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    7. Akın, Ş. Nuray & Leukhina, Oksana, 2015. "Risk-sharing within families: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 270-284.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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