IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/3046.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data

Author

Listed:
  • Joseph G. Altonji
  • Fumio Hayashi
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Abstract

What is the basic economic decision-making unit? Is it the household or the extended family? This question is fundamental to economic analysis and policy design. The answer given by the Life Cycle and Keynesian models is that the economic unit is the household. According to these models, members of particular households act selfishly and do not fully share resources with extended family members in other households. Hence, altering the distribution of resources across households within the extended family will alter the consumption and labor supply of those households who acquire or lose resources. In contrast to the Life Cycle and Keynesian models, the altruism model implies that the extended family is the basic economic decision-making unit. According to this model the extended family is linked through altruism and, as a result, acts as if it fully shares resources. In the altruism model nondistortionary changes in the distribution of resources across households within the extended family will have no effect on the consumption or labor supply of any of its members. Despite its importance, the boundaries of economic decision-making units have not, to our knowledge, been examined directly with micro data. Stated differently, the altruism model has not been tested against the Life Cycle and Keynesian alternatives with such data. This paper uses matched data on parents and their adult children, contained in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, to perform such a test. In essence our test asks whether the distribution of consumption and labor supply across households within the extended family depends on the distribution of resources across households within the extended family. Our findings provide quite strong evidence against the altruism model. The distribution of resources across households within the extended family is a highly significant (statistically and economically) determinant of the distribution of onsumption within the extended family. This finding holds for the entire sample as well as the subsample consisting of rich parents and poor children. In addition to showing that the distribution of extended family resources matters for extended family consumption, we test the life cycle model by asking whether only own resources matter, i.e., whether the resources of extended family members have no affect on a household's consumption. Our results indicate that extended family member resources have, at most, a modest effect on household consumption after one has controlled for the fact that extended family resources help predict a household's own permanent income.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 3046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3046
    Note: PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3046.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bruce, Neil & Waldman, Michael, 1991. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1345-1351, December.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    3. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-89-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Razin, Assaf & Rosenthal, Robert W, 1990. "A Strategic Altruism Model in Which Ricardian Equivalence Does Not Hold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1261-1268, December.
    5. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
    6. David E. Altig & Steven J. Davis, 1989. "Altruism, borrowing constraints, and social security," Working Papers (Old Series) 8918, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    7. John H. Cochrane, 1988. "A Test of Consumption Insurance," NBER Working Papers 2642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Bernheim, B Douglas & Bagwell, Kyle, 1988. "Is Everything Neutral?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 308-338, April.
    9. Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1990. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 155-165.
    10. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Assaf Razin, 1988. "Making Bequests Without Spoiling Children: Bequests as an Implicit Optimal Tax Structure and the Possibility That Altruistic Bequests are not Equaliz," NBER Working Papers 2735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Blundell, Richard William, 1987. "Econometric Approaches to the Specification of Life-Cycle Labour Supply and Commodity Demand Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W, 1988. "Altruism and Time Consistency: The Economics of Fait Accompli," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1165-1182, December.
    13. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-543, May.
    14. Andrew B. Abel & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1988. "Does the Consumption of Different Age Groups Move Together? A New Nonparametric Test of Intergenerational Altruism," NBER Working Papers 2490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving after Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 237-280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 1985. "Public debt and United States saving: A new test of the neutrality hypothesis," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 55-86, January.
    17. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1987. "Justifying Public Provision of Social Security," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(4), pages 674-696.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 2002. "Generational policy," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 27, pages 1873-1932, Elsevier.
    2. Altig, David & Davis, Steven J., 1993. "Borrowing constraints and two-sided altruism with an application to social security," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 467-494, May.
    3. Rebelein, Robert P, 1998. "Ricardian Equivalence Survives Strategic Behavior," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 53(2), pages 195-228.
    4. Johan Lagerl–f, 2004. "Efficiency-enhancing signalling in the Samaritan's dilemma," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 55-69, January.
    5. Altig, David & Davis, Steven J, 1992. "The Timing of Intergenerational Transfers, Tax Policy, and Aggregate Savings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1199-1220, December.
    6. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1997. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1121-1166, December.
    7. Amihai Glazer & Hiroki Kondo, 2015. "Governmental transfers and altruistic private transfers," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(2), pages 509-533, April.
    8. Johan Lagerlöf, 1999. "Incomplete Information in the Samaritan's Dilemma: The Dilemma (Almost) Vanishes," CIG Working Papers FS IV 99-12, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG), revised Jun 2002.
    9. William G. Gale & Joel B. Slemrod, 2001. "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax: Overview," NBER Working Papers 8205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1988. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 41-58, Spring.
    11. Cigno, A., 2016. "Conflict and Cooperation Within the Family, and Between the State and the Family, in the Provision of Old-Age Security," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 609-660, Elsevier.
    12. Attanasio, Orazio P., 1995. "The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 39-56, June.
    13. Maria G. Perozek, 2005. "Escaping the Samaritan's Dilemma: implications of a dynamic model of altruistic intergenerational transfers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-67, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    14. Severinov, Sergei, 2006. "Bequests as signals: Implications for fiscal policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1995-2008, November.
    15. Daniel Barczyk & Matthias Kredler, 2014. "A Dynamic Model of Altruistically-Motivated Transfers," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(2), pages 303-328, April.
    16. Fumio Hayashi & Joseph Altonji & Laurence Kotlikoff, 1991. "Risk-Sharing, Altruism, and the Factor Structure of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 3834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2002. "Are the Japanese Selfish, Altruistic or Dynastic?," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 53(1), pages 26-54, March.
    18. Alger, Ingela & Weibull, Jörgen, 2007. "The Fetters of the Sib: Weber Meets Darwin," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 682, Stockholm School of Economics.
    19. Christopher D Carroll, 1997. "Why Do the Rich Save So Much?," Economics Working Paper Archive 388, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    20. Marta Melguizo Garde, 2007. "La motivación de las transmisiones lucrativas entre generaciones de una familia: modelos teóricos y evidencia empírica," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 181(2), pages 81-118, June.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3046. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.