Bequests Motives and Models of Inheritance: A Survey of the Literature

  • André Masson
  • Pierre Pestieau
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy book series (SEEP)


The economic reality of inheritance — a factor of wealth accumulation having an appreciable effect on wealth distribution — is very different from conventional wisdom. One need only recall the stereotyped image of those elderly parents who do without their entire working lives so that they can leave each of their children a small patch of land. Literature offers up anecdotal images: the myth of the uncle in America as rich as Uncle Scrooge, the moral legacy that La Fontaine’s farmer bequeaths his three sons, the inheritance which star-crossed lovers will never receive, oblivious to the fact that ‘the postman always rings twice’, the heir in Labiche’s comedies whose major asset lies in having parents and uncles who are both wealthy and elderly. Besides those stereotypes, inheritance is for the majority associated with the loss of a beloved one and its ensuing consequences for the surviving family. Is inheritance only a private matter like marriage or a mere subject for crime novels, moralizing tales or light comedies — i.e. without economic implications?


Human Capital Fiscal Policy Balance Growth Path Intergenerational Transfer Wealth Accumulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Masson
  • Pierre Pestieau

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