IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wop/wispod/1019-93.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Intergenerational transfers and the accumulation of wealth

Author

Listed:
  • W. G. Gale
  • J. K. Scholz

Abstract

This paper provides evidence on the role of intergenerational transfers as a source of wealth. We use household data on transfers to provide direct estimates of transfer wealth, as we distinguish between intended transfers (for example, gifts to other households) and possible unintended transfers (bequests). We estimate that intended transfers account for at least 20 percent of net worth, and possibly significantly more. Thus a significant portion of U.S. wealth accumulation cannot be explained by the life-cycle model (according to which wealth is accumulated and consumed within a lifetime), even when the model is augmented to allow for bequests. We also show, contrary to many studies of transfers that focus only on bequests, that transfers between living persons are an important component of aggregate transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • W. G. Gale & J. K. Scholz, "undated". "Intergenerational transfers and the accumulation of wealth," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1019-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1019-93
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/dps/pdfs/dp101993.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Kurz, Mordecai, 1984. "Capital Accumulation and the Characteristics of Private Inter-Generational Transfers," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(201), pages 1-22, February.
    3. Paul L. Menchik, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U.S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316.
    4. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
    5. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-577, June.
    6. Robert E. Lipsey & Helen Stone Tice, 1989. "The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips89-1, May.
    7. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Does the Estate Tax Raise Revenue?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 1, pages 113-138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hayashi, Fumio & Ando, Albert & Ferris, Richard, 1988. "Life cycle and bequest savings A study of Japanese and U.S. households based on data from the 1984 NSFIE and the 1983 survey of consumer finances," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 450-491, December.
    9. Michael R. Darby, 1979. "The Effects of Social Security on Income and the Capital Stock," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 936292, September.
    10. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-958, October.
    11. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Spivak, Avia, 1981. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 372-391, April.
    12. Donald Cox, 1990. "Intergenerational Transfers and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 187-217.
    13. Donald Cox & Fredric Raines, 1985. "Interfamily Transfers and Income Redistribution," NBER Chapters, in: Horizontal Equity, Uncertainty, and Economic Well-Being, pages 393-426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. 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 141-152, Summer.
    15. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 151-182, July.
    16. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-690, September.
    17. Michael D. Hurd & B. Gabriela Mundaca, 1989. "The Importance of Gifts and Inheritances Among the Affluent," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 737-764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-732, August.
    19. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Lord, William & Rangazas, Peter, 1991. "Savings and Wealth in Models with Altruistic Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 289-296, March.
    21. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
    22. James B. Davies, 1982. "The Relative Impact of Inheritance and Other Factors on Economic Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(3), pages 471-498.
    23. Auerbach, A.J. & Kotlikoff, L.J. & Weil, D.N., 1992. "The Increasing Annuitization of the Elderly - Estimates and Implications for Intergenerational Transfers, Inequality and National Saving," Papers 6, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    24. Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
    25. Robert B. Avery & Gregory E. Elliehausen & Arthur B. Kennickell, 1988. "Measuring Wealth With Survey Data: An Evaluation Of The 1983 Survey Of Consumer Finances," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(4), pages 339-369, December.
    26. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
    27. Aaron, Henry J. & Munnell, Alicia H., 1992. "Reassessing the Role for Wealth Transfer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(2), pages 119-43, June.
    28. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1988. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 41-58, Spring.
    29. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-546, June.
    30. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-560, September.
    31. Aaron, Henry J. & Munnell, Alicia H., 1992. "Reassessing the Role for Wealth Transfer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 45(2), pages 119-143, June.
    32. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Precautionary Saving and Accidental Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 777-791, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Mauro Baranzini, 2005. "Modigliani's life-cycle theory of savings fifty years later," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 109-172.
    2. Mauro Baranzini, 2005. "Modigliani's life-cycle theory of savings fifty years later," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 109-172.
    3. Marta Melguizo Garde, 2007. "La motivación de las transmisiones lucrativas entre generaciones de una familia: modelos teóricos y evidencia empírica," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 181(2), pages 81-118, June.
    4. Arrondel, Luc & Masson, Andre, 2006. "Altruism, exchange or indirect reciprocity: what do the data on family transfers show?," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, in: S. Kolm & Jean Mercier Ythier (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Giving, Altruism and Reciprocity, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 971-1053, Elsevier.
    5. Bernheim, B. Douglas, 2002. "Taxation and saving," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 1173-1249, Elsevier.
    6. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2002. "Are the Japanese Selfish, Altruistic or Dynastic?," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 53(1), pages 26-54, March.
    7. Livio Di Matteo, 2008. "Wealth accumulation motives: evidence from the probate records of Ontario, 1892 and 1902," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 2(2), pages 143-171, July.
    8. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
    9. Bullard, James & Russell, Steven, 1999. "An empirically plausible model of low real interest rates and unbacked government debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 477-508, December.
    10. 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.
    11. Thomas A. Barthold & Takatoshi Ito, 1992. "Bequest Taxes and Accumulation of Household Wealth: U.S.-Japan Comparison," NBER Chapters, in: The Political Economy of Tax Reform, pages 235-292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. James B. Bullard & Steven Russell, 1998. "Monetary steady states in a low real interest rate economy," Working Papers 1994-012, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    13. Charles Horioka, 2014. "Are Americans and Indians more altruistic than the Japanese and Chinese? Evidence from a new international survey of bequest plans," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 411-437, September.
    14. William G. Gale & Joel B. Slemrod, 2001. "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax: Overview," NBER Working Papers 8205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Livio Di Matteo, 2016. "Wealth Distribution and the Canadian Middle Class: Historical Evidence and Policy Implications," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(2), pages 132-151, June.
    16. Laitner, John & Ohlsson, Henry, 2001. "Bequest motives: a comparison of Sweden and the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 205-236, January.
    17. 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.
    18. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
    19. André Masson & Pierre Pestieau, 1991. "Tests des modèles d'héritage : un inventaire critique," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 100(4), pages 73-92.
    20. Luc Arrondel & François-Charles Wolff, 1998. "La nature des transferts inter vivos en France : investissements humains, aides financières et transmission du patrimoine," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 135(4), pages 1-27.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1019-93. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/iruwius.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Thomas Krichel (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/iruwius.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.