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Bequests and family traditions: the case of nineteenth century France

Abstract : Like father, like son: is the bequest behavior of children “inherited” from that of their parents? Most economic models (altruistic, paternalistic or exchange models) postulate that bequest behavior does not depend per se on parents’ behavior. Yet because of data limitations, few empirical studies have analyzed the link between bequests left and inheritances received. In this paper, we evaluate the effect of inheritance relative to lifetime income on the amount that individuals bequeath, in the case of France. This study uses original historical data including wealth genealogies covering the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries for the Loire Inférieure département. Empirical evidence suggests that the propensity to bequeath is much greater for inheritance than for human resources: a deceased having inherited twice the average wealth leaves 35–60 % more to his own heirs that the average for his generation. In nineteenth century France, bequests are explained more by inheritance received than by personal savings per se.
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Submitted on : Friday, January 23, 2015 - 9:26:33 PM
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Luc Arrondel, Cyril Grange. Bequests and family traditions: the case of nineteenth century France. Review of Economics of the Household, Springer Verlag, 2014, 12 (3), pp.439-459. ⟨10.1007/s11150-013-9216-7⟩. ⟨halshs-01109018⟩



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