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Key Findings Details

Intergenerational Transfers in the Health and Retirement Study Data
John P. Laitner and Amanda Sonnega
WP 2010-238

We analyze data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) on private intergenerational transfers between parents and children to assess the magnitude of such transfers and the possible motives behind them.

  • We find that a household’s financial respondent often seems to understate transfers from his or her in-laws. Thus, overall inheritances are substantially understated.
  • About 30-40 percent of households eventually inherit.
  • Inheritances are a mixture of intentional and accidental bequests, with the latter twice as prevalent.