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Wealth Depletion and Life Cycle Consumption by the Elderly


  • Michael D. Hurd


The objective of the work reported in this paper is to find if the consumption data from the six waves of the Retirement History Survey are consistent with the life cycle hypothesis of consumption and to test the importance of a bequest motive for saving. The 12 data items which are used cover an estimated 36% of total consumption; the most important datum is food consumption. The findings support the life cycle hypothesis: as required, measured consumption among the elderly declines with age. A test of the bequest motive for saving based on the variation by extended family stricture in consumption paths provides no support for a bequest motive.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd, 1990. "Wealth Depletion and Life Cycle Consumption by the Elderly," NBER Working Papers 3472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3472
    Note: AG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
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    5. Abel, Andrew B, 1987. "Operative Gift and Bequest Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1037-1047, December.
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    8. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-481, March.
    9. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-690, September.
    10. 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.
    11. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-560, September.
    14. Ben S. Bernanke, 1984. "Permanent Income, Liquidity, and Expenditure on Automobiles: Evidence from Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 587-614.
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    Cited by:

    1. Xiaofen Lin, 1997. "Saving Before and After Retirement: A Study of Canadian Couples, 1969-1992," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 13, McMaster University.
    2. Michael D. Hurd, 1999. "Mortality Risk and Consumption by Couples," NBER Working Papers 7048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2015. "Policy preferences for inheritance taxation," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201531, Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. Steven J. Haider & Melvin Stephens, 2007. "Is There a Retirement-Consumption Puzzle? Evidence Using Subjective Retirement Expectations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 247-264, May.
    5. Michael D. Hurd & Daniel McFadden & Angela Merrill, 2001. "Predictors of Mortality among the Elderly," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 171-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robin Boadway & David Wildasin, 1994. "Taxation and savings: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 19-63, August.
    7. Michael D. Hurd, 1993. "The Effects of Demographic Trends on Consumption, Saving and Government Expenditures in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 4601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Barry P. Bosworth & Ralph C. Bryant & Gary Burtless, 2004. "The Impact of Aging on Financial Markets and the Economy: A Survey," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College 2004-23, Center for Retirement Research.
    9. Michael Hurd & Daniel McFadden & Angela Merrill & Tiago Ribeiro, 2000. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Socioeconomic Status and Morbidity/Mortality," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1887, Econometric Society.

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