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Bequest Motives and the Demand for Life Insurance in East Germany

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Abstract

Empirical studies of household saving remain inconclusive about the role of bequest motives. This may be due to the diluting effect of different tax regimes across countries and time on estimates of bequest motives. Relative to market-based economies, the former German Democratic Republic can be viewed as an experimental institutional setting where life-insurance demand was not influenced by tax considerations. This allows isolating bequest motives from other life-cycle and precautionary savings motives. Analyzing the demand for life insurance, we find a significantly higher ownership probability among households with children and a high regard for the family, confirming bequest motives in life-insurance demand.

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