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Parental Investments in College and Later Cash Transfers

  • Steven J. Haider
  • Kathleen McGarry


Parents often provide generous financial transfers to their adult children, perhaps assisting with college expenses, recognizing major life course events, or cushioning against negative financial shocks. Because resources are limited, a transfer made to one child likely affects transfers made to others in the family. Despite such possibilities, data limitations have led previous authors to focus almost exclusively on a single type of transfer made at a single point in time. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we examine the relationships among parental transfers for college and later cash transfers to all children within a family. We find that parents typically spend differentially on the postsecondary schooling of their children but find no evidence that this differential spending is offset by later cash transfers.


Economic demography Human capital investment Economics of the family Inter vivos transfers 



We thank Marianne Bitler, Todd Elder, Jonathan Skinner, Gary Solon, and seminar participants at Boston College, Cornell University, Florida International University, and the University of Wisconsin for helpful comments on a previous draft.

Supplementary material

13524_2018_703_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (32 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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