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The Importance of Gifts and Inheritances Among the Affluent

  • Michael D. Hurd
  • B. Gabriela Mundaca

Using data from the 1964 Survey of the Economic Behavior of the Affluent, we estimate directly the fraction of household assets which come from inheritances and the fraction from gifts. These data are well suited for this calculation because the survey is heavily weighted toward households with high incomes, and because the respondents were directly asked about the sources of their wealth. We estimate that 15-202 of household wealth came from inheritances and 5-102 from gifts. Even in households with very high incomes, very few people say that a large fraction of their assets were inherited or were given to them. According to the responses in this survey, it is not creditable that as much as 50% of household assets came from gifts and inheritances. Using data from the 1983 Survey of Consumer Finances with high income supplement, we roughly confirm the 1964 results, although the 1983 data are much less complete than the 1964 data.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2415.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2415.

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Date of creation: Oct 1987
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Publication status: published as In The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth. Robert E. Lipsey, and Helen Tice, eds. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1989.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2415
Note: AG
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  1. 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 706-32, August.
  2. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-43, June.
  3. Modigliani, Franco, 1985. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift and the Wealth of Nations," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1985-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  4. Kurz, Mordecai, 1984. "Capital Accumulation and the Characteristics of Private Inter-Generational Transfers," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(201), pages 1-22, February.
  5. Michael R. Darby, 1977. "The Effects of Social Security on Income and the Capital Stock," UCLA Economics Working Papers 095A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  6. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1984. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 258-59, March.
  7. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
  8. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
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