Anticipated and Actual Bequests

TitleAnticipated and Actual Bequests
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsHurd, MD, Smith, JP
EditorWise, DA
Book TitleThemes in the Economics of Aging
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
CityChicago, IL
KeywordsAdult children, Consumption and Savings, Demographics, Event History/Life Cycle, Health Conditions and Status

This paper uses data on anticipated bequests from two waves of the Health and Retirement Study and the Asset and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD), and on actual bequests from AHEAD. Actual bequests were measured in exit interviews given by proxy respondents for 774 AHEAD respondents who died between waves 1 and 2. Because the exit interview is representative of the elderly population, the distribution of estate values is quite different from that obtained from estate records, which represent just a wealthy subset of the population. Anticipated bequests were measured by the subjective probability of leaving bequests. Between waves 1 and 2, increases in bequest probabilities were associated with increases in the subjective probability of surviving, increments in household wealth, and widowing while out-of-pocket medical expenses reduced the likelihood of a bequest. By comparing bequest probabilities with baseline wealth we were able to test a main prediction of the life-cycle model, that individuals will dissave at advanced old-age. The AHEAD respondents anticipate substantial dissaving before they die.


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Endnote Keywords

Altruism/Intertemporal Consumer Choice/Life Cycle Models and Saving/Health Production--Nutrition, Mortality, Morbidity, Disability, and Economic Behavior/Economics of the Elderly/Bequests/Elderly/Life Cycle Models/Dissaving/Estate Values/Health

Endnote ID


Endnote Author Address

NBER Working Paper 7380. Copies available from: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Short TitleAnticipated and Actual Bequests
Citation Key5133