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How Important Are Inheritances for Baby Boomers?

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Publication Date: January 2011

Publisher(s): Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Author(s): Alicia H. Munnell; Anthony Webb; Zhenya S. Karamcheva; Andrew Eschtruth


Special Collection:

Topic: Economics (Consumers and consumption)
Economics (Economic conditions)
Economics (Property and wealth)

Keywords: savings and consumption

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Due to a changing retirement landscape, many baby boomers are likely to have insufficient resources for a secure retirement. One potential source that could improve their situation is inheritances. This study quantifies the aggregate amount of inheritances that baby boomers "those individuals born between 1946 and 1964" can expect to receive over their lifetimes, and the distribution of past and prospective receipts by household type.

The discussion is organized as follows. The first section quantifies the aggregate amount that boomers will receive. The second section investigates who will receive how much. The third section considers the impact of the recession on inheritances, specifically the declining values of equities and housing. The final section concludes that, while inheritances will augment the resources of aging baby boomers, they will be insufficient to ensure secure retirements.