inheritance and bequests

Kathleen McGarry
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
Back to top


The importance of bequests, their role in capital accumulation, and the motivation behind these transfers has long been the subject of debate among economists. Various models of intergenerational transfers yield different predictions about the responsiveness of bequests to changes in incomes of the donors and recipients and thus to the impact public policy. Yet, despite the intuitive appeal of these models, none has proved to be consistent with empirical patterns. This article discusses the alternative theories of transfer behaviour, examines the empirical work testing their predictions, and discusses the role of estate and gift taxes in affecting bequest behaviour.
Back to top


Back to top


Back to top

How to cite this article

McGarry, Kathleen. "inheritance and bequests." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 11 December 2017 <> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.0803

Download Citation:

as RIS | as text | as CSV | as BibTex