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Inter-vivos Giving Over the Lifecycle


  • Michael D. Hurd
  • James P. Smith
  • Julie Zissimopoulos


Inter-vivos cash transfers and bequests between family members total hundreds of billions of dollars each year. They may equalize resources within a generation of a family as well as across family generations. Transfers delayed to the end of life may represent a significant motive for saving. The authors use longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study on inter-vivos transfers that span up to twelve years to: describe financial transfers made by parents to children and their correlation with donor characteristics, examine age patterns in giving behavior, the persistence of transfers, and how transfers change in response to changes in marital status, economic status and health. Their empirical analysis is motivated by a dynamic life-cycle model with intervivos transfers as an argument in the utility function which generates hypotheses about the age pattern of transfers and how mortality risk, risk aversion and economic resources affect giving behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie Zissimopoulos, 2007. "Inter-vivos Giving Over the Lifecycle," Working Papers 524, RAND Corporation.
  • Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:524

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rosen, Sherwin, 2007. "Studies in Labor Markets," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226726304.
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    5. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2005. "Differential mortality, uncertain medical expenses, and the saving of elderly singles," Working Paper Series WP-05-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    6. Kathleen McGarry & Robert F. Schoeni, 1995. "Transfer Behavior in the Health and Retirement Study: Measurement and the Redistribution of Resources within the Family," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30, pages s184-s226.
    7. McGarry, K & Schoeni, R-F, 1996. "Measurement and the Redistribution of Resources Within the Family," Papers 96-11, RAND - Reprint Series.
    8. Cox, Donald & Jimenez, Emmanuel & Okrasa, Wlodek, 1997. "Family Safety Nets and Economic Transition: A Study of Worker Households in Poland," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(2), pages 191-209, June.
    9. Edward C. Norton & Courtney Harold Van Houtven, 2006. "Inter-vivos Transfers and Exchange," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 157-172, July.
    10. Cox, Donald & Eser, Zekeriya & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1998. "Motives for private transfers over the life cycle: An analytical framework and evidence for Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 57-80.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lei, Xiaoyan & Giles, John & Hu, Yuqing & Park, Albert & Strauss, John & Zhao, Yaohui, 2012. "Patterns and correlates of intergenerational non-time transfers : evidence from CHARLS," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6076, The World Bank.
    2. Tom Emery, 2013. "Intergenerational transfers and European families: Does the number of siblings matter?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(10), pages 247-274, August.
    3. Solveig Cunningham & Kathryn Yount & Michal Engelman & Emily Agree, 2013. "Returns on Lifetime Investments in Children in Egypt," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), pages 699-724.

    More about this item


    Intergenerational transfers; life-cycle consumption; household behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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