nr 042 - Understanding Bequest Motives – An Empirical Analysis of Intergenerational Transfers

DNB Working Papers
Publicatiedatum 29 mei 2005
This paper analyzes one of the major factors underlying old agents’ saving and consumption decisions - the individual intentions to leave bequests. We present two simple model of altruistically motivated bequests and use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to confront the theoretical implications of the two model with empirical evidence from the survey data provided. The main findings from the data are the following: First, there is strong evidence against a strictly accidental, and in favor of intentional bequest motive for a significant share of agents aged sixty and older. Second, we find the probability to leave an inheritance is mainly driven by wealth and individual characteristics such as health, education, race and religion, but not directly dependent on the heirs’ wellbeing, contradicting the standard altruistic model of bequest. JEL classification: D12, D64 Keywords: Bequest, Altruism