NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Marco Francesconi

University of Essex
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 2015Unequal Bequests
with Robert A. Pollak, Domenico Tabasso: w21692
Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we make two contributions to the literature on end-of-life transfers. First, we show that unequal bequests are much more common than generally recognized, with one-third of parents with wills planning to divide their estates unequally among their children. These plans for unequal division are particularly concentrated in complex families, which are of two types: families with stepchildren and families with genetic children with whom the parent has had no contact, e.g., children from previous marriages. We find that in complex families past and current contact between parents and children reduces or eliminates unequal bequests. Second, although the literature focuses on the bequest intentions of parents who have made wills, we find that...
 
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