Transfer Behavior within the Family: Results from the Asset and Health Dynamics Survey
Kathleen McGarry, Robert F. Schoeni
NBER Working Paper No. 5099
If an individual falls on hard times, can he rely on his family for financial support? In view of proposed reductions in public assistance programs, it is important to understand the mechanisms through which families provide support for their members. In this paper we provide evidence that intra-family transfers are compensatory, directed disproportionally to less well-off members. These results hold both for the incidence of transfers and for the amounts. Within a given year, adult children in the lowest income category are 6 percentage points more likely to receive a financial transfer from their parents, and on average they receive over $300 more than siblings in the highest income category. The data used in this study, the new Asset and Health Dynamics Survey (AHEAD), contain information on all children in the family. Thus we are able to estimate models which control for unobserved differences across families. Our results are robust to these specifications. Additionally, we do not find evidence that parents provide financial assistance to their children in exchange for caregiving.
Published: Journals of Gerontology, Vol. 52B (May 1997): 82-92.