The Strategic Bequest Motive

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The Strategic Bequest Motive

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Title: The Strategic Bequest Motive
Author: Bernheim, B. Douglas; Shleifer, Andrei; Summers, Lawrence H.

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Citation: Bernheim, B. Douglas, Andrei Shleifer, Lawrence H. Summers. 1986. The Strategic Bequest Motive. Journal of Labor Economics 4(S3): S151-S182
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Abstract: Although recent research suggests that intergenerational transfers play an important role in aggregate capital accumulation, our understanding of bequest motives remains incomplete. We develop a simple model of strategic bequests in which a testator influences the decisions of his beneficiaries by holding wealth in bequeathal forms and by conditioning the division of bequests on the beneficiaries' actions. The model generates falsifiable empirical predictions that are inconsistent with other theories of intergenerational transfer. We present econometric and other evidence that strongly suggests that bequests are often used as compensation for services rendered by beneficiaries.
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