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Expected Bequests and Their Distribution

Authors

Abstract

Based on a sample of actual bequests that is population-representative and on the subjective probability of bequests, the authors estimate the distribution of bequests that the older population will make. The authors find that the distribution is highly skewed, so that the typical baby-boom person will receive a very modest inheritance. This is partly due to the skewed distribution of wealth and partly due to the tendency of the wealthy to have fewer children. But it is also due to anticipated dissaving: the authors estimate that households in the age band 70-74 will bequeath just 39% of their wealth, consuming the rest before they die.

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