Are Americans More Altruistic than the Japanese? A U.S.-Japan Comparison of Saving and Bequest Motives

Charles Yuji Horioka, Hideki Fujisaki, Wako Watanabe, Takatsugu Kouno

NBER Working Paper No. 7463
Issued in January 2000
NBER Program(s):   PE

In this paper, we analyze a variety of data on saving motives, bequest motives, and bequest division from the Comparative Survey of Savings in Japan and the United States,' a binational survey conducted in 1996 by the Institute for Posts and Telecommunications Policy of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of the Government of Japan, in order to shed light on which model of household behavior applies in the two countries. We find (1) that the selfish life cycle model is the dominant model of household behavior in both countries but that it is far more applicable in Japan than it is in the U.S., (2) that the altruism model is far more applicable in the U.S. than it is in Japan but that it is not the dominant model of household behavior in either country, and (3) that the dynasty model is more applicable in Japan than it is in the U.S. bu that it is of only limited applicability even in Japan.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7463

Published: International Economic Journal, Vol. 14, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 1-31. citation courtesy of

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