Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 73–97

Consistent Motives for Inter-Family Transfers: Simple Altruism

  • Maurice MacDonald
  • Sun-Kang Koh

DOI: 10.1023/A:1022435104422

Cite this article as:
MacDonald, M. & Koh, SK. Journal of Family and Economic Issues (2003) 24: 73. doi:10.1023/A:1022435104422


The influence of the comparative economic status of elderly parents and their adult children on inter-vivos transfers and inheritance was analyzed. The 1992 Wisconsin Longitudinal Study interview provides new evidence that transfers from parents to mid-life adults are motivated by simple altruism, in contrast to other recent studies that support compensatory altruism or exchange motives. These results are based on income tax records for parents from the late 1950's and respondents' earnings reports for the mid-70's, and within-family analyses of sibling pairs and their income reports in the early 1990's. A policy implication is that government income redistribution will not affect how elderly parents provide financial transfers to their adult children.

family transfersinheritancemid-life adults

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurice MacDonald
    • 1
  • Sun-Kang Koh
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesIowa State UniversityAmes
  2. 2.Family Culture and Consumer SciencesSungshin Women's UniversitySungbuku, SeoulKorea