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Key Findings Details

Motives for Bequests within the Middle Class
John P. Laitner and Amanda Sonnega
WP 2012-275

  • Using Health and Retirement Study data on the ratio of parent-to-child lifetime incomes, we analyze the motives behind bequests. We find support for an unintentional transfer model in which bequests arise from residual, unspent parent life-cycle resources.
  • We find some evidence of altruistic bequest behavior, but the support seems limited.
  • We show that our model can account for the frequency of dual inheritances that earlier work revealed.

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