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Expected Bequests and Their Distribution

  • Michael Hurd
  • James P. Smith

Based on a sample of actual bequests that is population-representative and on the subjective probability of bequests, we estimate the distribution of bequests that the older population will make. We find that the distribution is highly skewed, so that the typical baby-boom person will receive a very modest inheritance. This is partly due to the skewed distribution of wealth and partly due to the tendency of the wealthy to have fewer children. But it is also due to anticipated dissaving: we estimate that households in the age band 70-74 will bequeath just 39% of their wealth, consuming the rest before they die.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9142.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9142
Note: AG
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  1. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  2. F. Thomas Juster & Richard Suzman, 1995. " An Overview of the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30, pages s7-s56.
  3. Wilhelm, M.O., 1990. "Bequest Behavior And The Effect Of Heirs' Earnings: Testing The Altruistic Model Of Bequests," Papers 9-90-12, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Laitner, John & Juster, F Thomas, 1996. "New Evidence on Altruism: A Study of TIAA-CREF Retirees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 893-908, September.
  5. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 1999. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
  7. Michael D. Hurd, 1999. "Mortality Risk and Consumption by Couples," Working Papers 99-03, RAND Corporation.
  8. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
  9. Andrew B. Abel, 2002. "The effects of a baby boom on stock prices and capital accumulation in the presence of Social Security," Working Papers 03-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  10. James M. Poterba, 1998. "Population Age Structure and Asset Returns: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 6774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Orazio P. Attanasio & Hilary W. Hoynes, 1995. "Differential Mortality and Wealth Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 5126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
  13. 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.
  14. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2004. "Improving the Quality of Economic Data: Lessons from the HRS and AHEAD," Labor and Demography 0402010, EconWPA.
  15. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  16. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
  17. David, Martin & Menchik, Paul L, 1985. "The Effect of Social Security on Lifetime Wealth Accumulation and Bequests," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 52(208), pages 421-34, November.
  18. James P. Smith, 2004. "Why is Wealth Inequality Rising?," Macroeconomics 0402012, EconWPA.
  19. Michael Hurd & Monika Reti, 2003. "The Effects of Large Capital Gains on Work and Consumption: Evidence from Four Waves of the HRS," Working Papers 03-14, RAND Corporation.
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