Equal division of estates and the exchange motive

Journal Article

Although the bequest motive is one of the most important theoretical extensions of the life-cycle hypothesis, few empirical studies have measured determinants of unequal estate division. We estimated whether several proxies that are consistent with exchange and altruism lead to unequal estate division using data from a longitudinal survey of deceased elderly persons linked to probate court records. Equal division was the rule-between 70 and 83% of estates were divided equally, depending on the strictness of the definition of equal division. Several measures of exchange were not significant predictors of unequal division. Two factors that are consistent with both exchange and altruism-writing the last will and testament within five years of death and having more children-predict unequal estate division. The models control for selection, because many decedents do not file a record in probate court. © 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Norton, EC; Jr, DHT

Published Date

  • 2005

Published In

  • Journal of Aging and Social Policy

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 63 - 82

PubMed ID

  • 15760801

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1300/J031v17n01_04