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Dissaving by the Elderly, Transfer Motives and Liquidity Constraints

  • Albert Ando
  • Luigi Guiso
  • Daniele Terlizzese

Two explanations have been proposed for the observed slowness of wealth decumulation by the elderly in the literature: the precautionary saving induced by (uninsurable) uncertainty about the time of death or by the possibility of major catastrophes in old age that require large outlays; the desire to pass part of the accumulated assets on to one's heirs. We reconsider the issue of wealth decumulation by the elderly and assess the presence of a transfer motive, drawing on Italian data. We show that if intergenerational transfer of assets takes place well before the time of death, induced for instance by existence of liquidity constraints on younger families, then tests for the presence of a transfer motive based on the relative speed of decumulation of elderly households with and without a potential bequest motive might have little discriminatory power. We suggest that in this case one should look at the whole pattern of asset accumulation and decumulation. We also offer an alternative test of the bequest motive based on life insurance purchases.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4569.

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Date of creation: Dec 1993
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Publication status: published as Ando, Albert, Luigi Guiso, and Ignazio Visco (eds.) Saving and the accumulation of wealth: Essays on Italian household and government saving behavior. Cambridge; New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4569
Note: EFG
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  1. Albert Ando & Luigi Guiso & Daniele Terlizzese & Daniel Dorsainvil, 1991. "Younger Households Saving: Evidence From Japan and Italy," NBER Working Papers 3871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 1991. "Intergenerational transfers and capital market imperfections : Evidence from a cross-section of Italian households," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 103-120, January.
  3. Barca, F. & Cannari, L. & Guiso, L., 1992. "Bequests and Saving for Retirement. What Impels the Accumulation of Wealth," Papers 165, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  4. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  5. Ohtake, F., 1991. "Bequest Motives of Aged Households in Japan," ISER Discussion Paper 0249, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  6. Shorrocks, A F, 1975. "The Age-Wealth Relationship: A Cross-Section and Cohort Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(2), pages 155-63, May.
  7. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
  8. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1988. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 41-58, Spring.
  9. Fischer, Stanley, 1973. "A Life Cycle Model of Life Insurance Purchases," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(1), pages 132-52, February.
  10. Angus Deaton, 1989. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 3196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rossi, N. & Visco, I., 1992. "Private Savings and Government Deficit in Italy (1951-1990)," Papers 178, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  12. Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
  13. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1991. "Why is Italy's Savings Rate So High?," CEPR Discussion Papers 572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Laitner, John, 1993. "Long-run equilibria with borrowing constraints and altruism," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 65-96.
  15. Giucca, P. & Jappelli, T. & Terlizzese, D., 1992. "Earning Uncertainty and Precautionary Saving," Papers 161, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
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