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Transfer Behavior: Measurement and the Redistribution of Resources within the Family

  • Kathleen McGarry
  • Robert F. Schoeni

Recent work by a number of economists has opened a debate about the role played by intergenerational transfers. Using the new Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), we are better able to address the issues involved. Contrary to the current literature on bequests, we do not find that parents give transfers equally to all children. Rather we find that in the case of inter vivos transfers, respondents give greater financial assistance to their less well off children, relative to their children with higher incomes. Financial transfers to elderly parents are also found to be negatively related to the (potential) recipient's income. These results hold both for the incidence of transfers and for the amounts. Additionally, we allow for unobserved differences across families by estimating fixed effect models and find our results to be robust to these specifications. Thus we fail to reject altruism as a possible motivation for transfers. A comparison of the HRS transfer data to other survey data demonstrates that the HRS is potentially quite useful for research on transfer behavior.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4607.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4607.

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Date of creation: Jan 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Human Resources, 1995
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4607
Note: AG
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  1. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence Kotlikoff, 1996. "The Effects of Income and Wealth on Time and Money Transfers between Parents and Children," NBER Working Papers 5522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  4. 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.
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