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Intergenerational Transfers in Italy

  • Luigi, Cannnari
  • Giovanni, D'Alessio

In this paper we examine the role of intergenerational transfers in the wealth accumulation of Italian households. Received transfers represent an important share of the net wealth held by households. Direct estimates referring to 2002 range from 30 to 55 per cent, depending on the inclusion of the income stream produced by transferred assets. This share has shown a tendency to increase over the last decade. In a lifetime perspective, the ratio of transfers received over the whole life span to the total amount of resources, both computed at the age of 15, is on average equal to 4.6 per cent, a significant share considering the size of the denominator. Transfers are very concentrated, more than income and wealth, even when considered in a lifetime perspective. Households receiving transfers show higher levels of lifetime income, consumption, net wealth and given transfers than non-recipient households. Richer households receive larger transfers but, as a proportion of their current wealth holdings, transfers are greater for poorer households than richer ones. These results cannot be interpreted as an equalising effect of transfers, because people tend to react to transfers, changing their saving and consumption behaviour. The correlation between transfers (received or expected over the whole life span) and lifetime income is positive. Again, richer households receive greater inheritances and other wealth transfers than poorer households; as a proportion of their lifetime income, transfers are greater for poorer households than richer ones. This result is likely to be due to the much more important role played by family background variables than bequests as factors of transmission of inequality of lifetime resources. Finally, we find a positive relationship between left-to-children bequests and received-from-parents inheritances; this relationship holds even after controlling for lifetime resources, suggesting the importance of the role of family traditions.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 15111.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15111
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  1. Luigi Cannari & Giovanni D'Alessio & Romina Gambacorta, 2007. "Capital gains and wealth distribution in Italy," IFC Bulletins chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Proceedings of the IFC Conference on "Measuring the financial position of the household sector", Basel, 30-31 August 2006 - Volume 2, volume 26, pages 129-156 Bank for International Settlements.
  2. O. Attanasio & H. W. Hoynes, . "Differential mortality and wealth accumulation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1079-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  3. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2007. "To Leave or Not to Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 207-235.
  4. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 0445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kessler, Denis & Masson, Andre, 1989. "Bequest and Wealth Accumulation: Are Some Pieces of the Puzzle Missing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 141-52, Summer.
  6. Jeffrey R. Brown & Courtney C. Coile & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2006. "The Effect of Inheritance Receipt on Retirement," NBER Working Papers 12386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andrea Brandolini, 1999. "The Distribution of Personal Income in Post-War Italy: Source Description, Data Quality, and the Time Pattern of Income Inequality," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 350, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  8. 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.
  9. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Joulfaian, David & Rosen, Harvey S, 1993. "The Carnegie Conjecture: Some Empirical Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 413-35, May.
  10. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & James Sefton & Martin Weale, 1998. "Simulating the transmission of wealth inequality via bequests," Working Paper 9811, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  11. Andrea Brandolini & Giovanni D’Alessio & Luigi Cannari & Ivan Faiella, 2004. "Household Wealth Distribution in Italy in the 1990s," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_414, Levy Economics Institute.
  12. Michael Hurd & James P. Smith, 2003. "Expected Bequests and Their Distribution," Working Papers 03-10, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  13. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  14. 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.
  15. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2002. "Simulating the Transmission of Wealth Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 265-269, May.
  16. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
  17. Joulfaian, D. & Wilheim, M.O., 1992. "Inheritance and Labor Supply," Papers 6-92-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  18. Dimitrios Christelis & Guglielmo Weber, 2006. "Expected Bequests and Current Wealth in SHARE," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 20, Society for Computational Economics.
  19. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
  20. Cameron, Lisa A. & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2001. "Old-Age Support in Developing Countries: Labor Supply, Intergenerational Transfers and Living Arrangements," IZA Discussion Papers 289, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Claudia Biancotti & Giovanni D'Alessio & Andrea Neri, 2004. "Errori di misura nell�indagine sui bilanci delle famiglie italiane," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 520, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
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