The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Living Edition
| Editors: Palgrave Macmillan

Inheritance and Bequests

  • Kathleen McGarry
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95121-5_1952-1

Abstract

The importance of bequests, their role in capital accumulation, and the motivation behind these transfers has long been the subject of debate among economists. Various models of intergenerational transfers yield different predictions about the responsiveness of bequests to changes in incomes of the donors and recipients and thus to the impact public policy. Yet, despite the intuitive appeal of these models, none has proved to be consistent with empirical patterns. This article discusses the alternative theories of transfer behaviour, examines the empirical work testing their predictions, and discusses the role of estate and gift taxes in affecting bequest behaviour.

Keywords

Accidental-bequest motive Altruism Annuities Bequest motive Bequests Charitable contributions Consumption smoothing Estate taxation Exchange motive Gift taxation Health insurance Inheritance taxation Inheritances Inter vivos transfers Intergenerational transfers Life insurance Marginal utility of consumption National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) Pensions Savings behaviour Social Security (USA) Succession laws Tax avoidance Transfer taxation Wills 

JEL Classifications

J10 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen McGarry
    • 1
  1. 1.