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Gifts, Lies and Bequests

Author

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  • Alessandro Balestrino

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Abstract

Recent empirical work on intergenerational transfers has shown that: i) parents prefer to transfer resources to their children using bequests rather than inter vivos transfers (gifts), and ii) bequests tend to be divided equally, while gifts tend to be directed towards the less well-off children. In this note, we present a theoretical model of the altruistic family with heterogeneous children which does not contradict either i) or ii). In our setting, i) follows because bequests are more e¢cient than gifts: these are negatively related to the children’s reported income (true income cannot be observed) and therefore distort the effort supply decisions as well as inducing underreporting. As for ii), we propose two arguments. First, market imperfections make bequests, which come late in life, a rather ineffective redistributive tool, so that it may be pointless to differentiate them. Second, imposing the constraint that bequest have to be equal is not necessarily costly in welfare terms and permits to avoid the the psychic costs or the loss of reputation associated with unequal giving.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Balestrino, 2000. "Gifts, Lies and Bequests," CHILD Working Papers wp01_00, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpc:wplist:wp01_00
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    File URL: http://www.child-centre.it/papers/child1_2000.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stefan Hochguertel & Henry Ohlsson, 2009. "Compensatory inter vivos gifts," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(6), pages 993-1023.
    2. Cremer, Helmuth & Kessler, Denis & Pestieau, Pierre, 1992. "Intergenerational transfers within the family," European Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 1-16.
    3. Lundholm, Michael & Ohlsson, Henry, 2000. "Post mortem reputation, compensatory gifts and equal bequests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 165-171, August.
    4. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 1996. "Bequests as a Heir "Discipline Device."," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, pages 405-414.
    5. 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.
    6. Cigno, Alessandro & C. Giannelli, Gianna & Rosati, Furio C., 1998. "Voluntary transfers among Italian households: altruistic and non-altruistic explanations," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 435-451, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Hochguertel & Henry Ohlsson, 2009. "Compensatory inter vivos gifts," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(6), pages 993-1023.
    2. Marta Melguizo Garde, 2007. "La motivación de las transmisiones lucrativas entre generaciones de una familia: modelos teóricos y evidencia empírica," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 181(2), pages 81-118, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; inter vivos transfers; bequests;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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