Savings and Bequests
Empirical studies have indicated that the elderly seem to accumulate wealth after retirement, and that the desire to leave bequests is an important determinent of saving behavior, both kinds of results have cast doubt on the validity of the life cycle hypothesis of consumption. In the first part of this paper, a model of bequests is specified, and the implications for consumption and wealth trajectories are derived. The main result is that, even with a bequest motive, consumption generally decreases with age after retirement, and that wealth will also decrease for all but wealthy households. In the empirical part of the paper, wealth changes of retired households are reported over 10 years of panel data. Contrary to many results from cross-section data, the elderly do dissave: over 10 years the wealth of the elderly in the sample decreases by about 27 real. A test for a bequest motive is proposed. There is no evidence whatsoever for abequest motive.
NOTE: WP1826 is also the basis for reprint 905 (08/01/87), "Saving of the Elderly and Desired Bequests." From The American Economic Review, Vol. 77, No. 3, pp. 298-312, (June 1987).
"Mortality Risk and Bequests." From Econometrica, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 779- 813, (July 1989).