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The Timing of Intergenerational Transfers, Tax Policy, and Aggregate Savings

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  • David Altig
  • Steve J. Davis

Abstract

We analyze the interest rate and savings effects of fiscal policy in an overlapping generations framework that accommodates two observations: (1) The interest rate on consumption loans exceeds the rate of return to household savings. (2) Private intergenerational transfers are widespread and primarily occur early in the lifecycle of recipients. The wedge between borrowing and lending rates in our model arises from the asymmetric tax treatment of interest income and interest payments. Intergenerational transfers are altruistically motivated. Under the assumption that altruistic transfers occur in at least some family lines and other plausible conditions, we prove the invariance of capital's steady-state marginal product to government expenditures, government debt, the labor income tax schedule, and the tax rate on capital income. In contrast, we find that the tax treatment of interest payments has powerful effects on capitals? marginal product and aggregate savings in life-cycle and, especially, altruistic linkage models. Our theoretical analysis also generates new testable implications for empirical work on how tax policy effects aggregate savings and on the connection between the age distribution of resources and the age distribution of consumption. Simulations of our model suggest that the 1986 Tax Reform Act's elimination of interest deductibility on consumer loan repayments will significantly increase per capita savings.

Suggested Citation

  • David Altig & Steve J. Davis, 1991. "The Timing of Intergenerational Transfers, Tax Policy, and Aggregate Savings," NBER Working Papers 3753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3753
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    Cited by:

    1. David Altig, 1990. "The case of the missing interest deductions: will tax reform increase U. S. saving rates?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 22-34.
    2. Cox, Donald & Eser, Zekeriya & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1998. "Motives for private transfers over the life cycle: An analytical framework and evidence for Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 57-80, February.
    3. 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.
    4. Smetters, Kent, 1999. "Ricardian equivalence: long-run Leviathan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 395-421, September.
    5. Mishra, Ashok K. & El-Osta, Hisham S. & Johnson, James D., 2004. "Succession In Family Farm Business: Empirical Evidence From The U.S. Farm Sector," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20114, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    6. Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul Willen, 2006. "Borrowing Costs and the Demand for Equity over the Life Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 348-362, May.
    7. Hurst, Erik & Willen, Paul, 2007. "Social security and unsecured debt," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1273-1297, August.
    8. Laura Bartiloro & Cristiana Rampazzi, 2015. "Financial support from the family network during the crisis," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 291, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    9. 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.
    10. Barczyk, Daniel, 2016. "Ricardian equivalence revisited: Deficits, gifts and bequests," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-24.
    11. David Altig, 1992. "An ebbing tide lowers all boats: monetary policy, inflation, and social justice," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 14-22.
    12. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU , Pierre, 1994. "Fiscal Policy in a Growth Model with Both Altruistic and Non Altruistic Agents," CORE Discussion Papers 1994049, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    13. Robin Boadway & David Wildasin, 1994. "Taxation and savings: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 19-63, August.
    14. Daniel Barczyk, 2013. "Deficits, Gifts, and Bequests," 2013 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. Nzinga Broussard & Ralph Chami & Gregory Hess, 2015. "(Why) Do self-employed parents have more children?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 297-321, June.
    16. Emanuela Cardia & Serena Ng, 2003. "Intergenerational Time Transfers and Childcare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), pages 431-454, April.
    17. Miljkovic, Dragan, 2000. "Optimal timing in the problem of family farm transfer from parent to child: an option value approach," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 543-552, April.

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