Motives for Intergenerational Transfers

Evidence from Malaysia

by Lee A. Lillard, Robert Willis

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In this paper the authors discuss a number of hypotheses about motives for intergenerational transfers within the family. The authors use data on time and money transfers between generations in Malaysia, where there is neither Social Security nor Medicare, to explore these hypotheses empirically. The authors find evidence supporting the hypotheses that children are an important source of old age security and that old age security is, in part, children's repayment for parental investments in their education. This repayment is partly a function of the children's income and, in the case of females, a function of their spouse's income. The authors also find evidence supporting the hypothesis that parents and children engage in the exchange of time help for money.

Originally published in: Demography, v. 34, no. 1, February 1997, pp. 115-134.

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