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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, the authors estimate the distribution of bequests that the older population will make. The authors 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: the authors 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 RAND Corporation in its series Working Papers with number 03-10.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:03-10
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Michael D. Hurd, 1999. "Mortality Risk and Consumption by Couples," NBER Working Papers 7048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Andrew B. Abel, 2002. "The Effects of a Baby Boom on Stock Prices and Capital Accumulation in the Presence of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 9210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Orazio P. Attanasio & Hilary W. Hoynes, 1995. "Differential Mortality and Wealth Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 5126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
  8. James M. Poterba, 1998. "Population Age Structure and Asset Returns: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 6774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. James P. Smith, 2004. "Why is Wealth Inequality Rising?," Macroeconomics 0402012, EconWPA.
  10. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 2001. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Chapters, in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 357-392 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Bernheim, B. Douglas, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Scholarly Articles 3721794, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  18. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2004. "Improving the Quality of Economic Data: Lessons from the HRS and AHEAD," Labor and Demography 0402010, EconWPA.
  19. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
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