Savings and Bequests

51 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2004 Last revised: 30 Jun 2021

See all articles by Michael D. Hurd

Michael D. Hurd

RAND Corporation; State University of New York at Stony Brook - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: 1986


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.

Suggested Citation

Hurd, Michael D., Savings and Bequests (1986). NBER Working Paper No. w1826, Available at SSRN:

Michael D. Hurd (Contact Author)

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State University of New York at Stony Brook - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

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