How Large Are Bequest Motives? Estimates Based on Health Shocks

50 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2017 Last revised: 21 Nov 2022

Date Written: September 1, 2022


I analyze the inter-vivos transfers and bequest decisions of 700,000 individuals during a period when the decision-maker receives negative news regarding life expectancy. The event that initiates the news is a health outcome. Expected mortality increases both the likelihood of transferring wealth to the next generation and the amount transferred. The size of the inter-vivos transfer and bequest are positively related to the wealth of the parent and the severity of the diagnosis--irrespective of diagnosis-specific demand for informal care. Using a structural life-cycle model, I estimate the bequest parameters that are consistent with the causal effect estimates.

JEL Classification: D1, D14, D31, E21, I12

Suggested Citation

Soerlie Kvaerner, Jens, How Large Are Bequest Motives? Estimates Based on Health Shocks (September 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Jens Soerlie Kvaerner (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, -- 4818HK
40242704 (Phone)
0364 (Fax)


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