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Inheritances and Bequests


  • James P. Smith



This paper uses data on planned bequests and actual inheritances received from the recently fielded Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) and Asset and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD). Combined these two surveys span the mature and older ages in the life-dycle that are most relevant for bequest behavior. The availability of this data offers another important option to help us understand why so many households have little intention of bequeathing any financial inheritance while so many other American households leave so much.

Suggested Citation

  • James P. Smith, 2004. "Inheritances and Bequests," Labor and Demography 0408012, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0408012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard T. Curtin & Thomas Juster & James N. Morgan, 1989. "Survey Estimates of Wealth: An Assessment of Quality," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 473-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Francine D. Blau & John W. Graham, 1990. "Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 321-339.
    3. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-399, April.
    4. Terrell, Henry S, 1971. "Wealth Accumulation of Black and White Families: The Empirical Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 26(2), pages 363-377, May.
    5. Sobol, Marion Gross, 1979. "Factors Influencing Private Capital Accumulation on the "Eve of Retirement"," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(4), pages 585-593, November.
    6. Wolff, Edward N, 1992. "Changing Inequality of Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 552-558, May.
    7. Andrew B. Abel, 1984. "Bequests and Social Security With Uncertain Lifetimes," NBER Working Papers 1372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-564, June.
    9. James P. Smith, 2004. "Assets and Labor Supply," Labor and Demography 0404003, EconWPA.
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    Cited by:

    1. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
    2. Juster, F. Thomas & Smith, James P. & Stafford, Frank, 1999. "The measurement and structure of household wealth," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 253-275, June.
    3. John J. McArdle & James P. Smith & Robert Willis, 2011. "Cognition and Economic Outcomes in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Chapters,in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 209-233 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
    5. Lee Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 2001. "Cognition and Wealth: The Importance of Probabilistic Thinking," Working Papers wp007, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    6. James P. Smith & John J. McArdle & Robert Willis, 2010. "Financial Decision Making and Cognition in a Family Context," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(548), pages 363-380, November.

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    JEL classification:

    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics

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