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Transfer Behavior within the Family: Results from the Asset and Health Dynamics Survey

  • Kathleen McGarry
  • Robert F. Schoeni

If an individual falls on hard times, can he rely on his family for financial support? In view of proposed reductions in public assistance programs, it is important to understand the mechanisms through which families provide support for their members. In this paper we provide evidence that intra-family transfers are compensatory, directed disproportionally to less well-off members. These results hold both for the incidence of transfers and for the amounts. Within a given year, adult children in the lowest income category are 6 percentage points more likely to receive a financial transfer from their parents, and on average they receive over $300 more than siblings in the highest income category. The data used in this study, the new Asset and Health Dynamics Survey (AHEAD), contain information on all children in the family. Thus we are able to estimate models which control for unobserved differences across families. Our results are robust to these specifications. Additionally, we do not find evidence that parents provide financial assistance to their children in exchange for caregiving.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5099.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5099.

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Date of creation: Apr 1995
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journals of Gerontology, Vol. 52B (May 1997): 82-92.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5099
Note: AG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
  2. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  3. Honore, Bo E, 1992. "Trimmed LAD and Least Squares Estimation of Truncated and Censored Regression Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(3), pages 533-65, May.
  4. Kathleen McGarry & Robert F. Schoeni, 1994. "Transfer Behavior: Measurement and the Redistribution of Resources within the Family," NBER Working Papers 4607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Wilhelm, Mark O, 1996. "Bequest Behavior and the Effect of Heirs' Earnings: Testing the Altruistic Model of Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 874-92, September.
  6. Cox, Donald & Rank, Mark R, 1992. "Inter-vivos Transfers and Intergenerational Exchange," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 305-14, May.
  7. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
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