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Are the Chinese Altruistic? Explaining Motives behind Chinese Intergenerational Transfers using the Strategic Bequest Motive

By Lucy Yin

Two main competing theories regarding intergenerational transfers from adult children to elderly parents exist: the altruism model and the exchange model. The strategic bequest motive supports the exchange model in claiming parents with bequeathable wealth will incentivize children to devote more resources to parents in order to receive a larger bequest. I use data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey to assess whether children increase monetary or time transfers to elderly parents with bequeathable property ownership. My findings suggest an altruistic model at play, which contradicts most findings in East Asian countries but may be a trend found in other developing countries.

Honors Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Frank Sloan, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D14, D64 | Tagged: Bequests, Altruism, Intergenerational Transfers


Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly