Original Paper

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 64-76

First online:

Do People Save or Spend Their Inheritances? Understanding What Happens to Inherited Wealth

  • Jay L. ZagorskyAffiliated withCenter for Human Resource Research, The Ohio State University Email author 

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Almost $4 trillion dollars of wealth is currently held by families with a life expectancy of less than 10 years. When that wealth is inherited, will it be retained or spent quickly? Results from the NLSY79, a longitudinal survey covering people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s suggest roughly half of all money inherited is saved and the other half spent or lost investing. These spending and saving decisions are made by a concentrated group with about one-fifth of all families getting an inheritance and about one-seventh expecting to receive an inheritance. Suggestions to increase savings from inheritances are discussed.


Bequest Inheritance Saving Wealth