Essays on Saving, Bequests, Altruism, and Life-cycle Planning

Essays on Saving, Bequests, Altruism, and Life-cycle Planning

By Laurence J. Kotlikoff





This collection of essays, coauthored with other distinguished economists, offers new perspectives on saving, intergenerational economic ties, retirement planning, and the distribution of wealth. The book links life-cycle microeconomic behavior to important macroeconomic outcomes, including the roughly 50 percent postwar decline in America's rate of saving and its increasing wealth inequality. The book traces these outcomes to the government's five-decade-long policy of transferring, in the form of annuities, ever larger sums from young savers to old spenders. The book presents new theoretical and empirical analyses of altruism that rule out the possibility that private intergenerational transfers have offset those by the government.While rational life-cycle behavior can explain broad economic outcomes, the book also shows that a significant minority of households fail to make coherent life-cycle saving and insurance decisions. These mistakes are compounded by reliance on conventional financial planning tools, which the book compares with Economic Security Planner (ESPlanner), a new life-cycle financial planning software program. The application of ESPlanner to U.S. data indicates that most Americans approaching retirement age are saving at much lower rates than they should be, given potential major cuts in Social Security benefits.


$55.00 X ISBN: 9780262112628 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 20 illus.


  • Laurence Kotlikoff's research has helped the economics profession to understand what really drives saving, bequests and other gifts. Serious students of these subjects will want to read and study the papers in this volume.

    Martin Feldstein

    President, National Bureau of Economic Research, and Professor of Economics, HArvard University

  • Laurence Kotlikoff is the world's leading authority on savings behavior: its causes and its consequences for public policy. These essays are a worthy successor and extension to his What Determines Savings? Anyone who wants to stay current on research in public finance will want to read the recent contributions collected here.

    Robert E. Lucas Jr.

    John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Economics, University of Chicago