Motives for Bequests within the Middle Class

TitleMotives for Bequests within the Middle Class
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLaitner, J, Sonnega, A
Series TitleMRDRC Research Brief
Document NumberWP 2012-275
InstitutionMichigan Retirement and Disability Research Center, University of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, MI
KeywordsAdult children, Event History/Life Cycle

The life-cycle model of household behavior forms the basis for most economic analysis of Social Security, private pensions, and retirement. This project seeks to extend the usefulness of the life-cycle model by considering the role of middle-class inheritances and bequests. We use HRS data. Prior work by the authors identifies key information in the HRS on the sources of private intergenerational transfers, and it shows that the frequency of couples inheritances from both spouses family lines is higher than random behavior would imply. Using additional HRS data on the ratio of parent-to-child lifetime incomes, we analyze the motives behind HRS bequests. We find support for an unintentional transfer model in which bequests arise from residual, unspent parent life-cycle resources. And, we show that our model can account for the frequency of dual inheritances that earlier work revealed.

Endnote Keywords

life-cycle/Intergenerational Transfers/Bequest Motives/inheritance

Endnote ID


Citation Key5940