Charitable Bequests and Wealth at Death

Anthony B Atkinson, Peter G Backus, John Micklewright

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Charitable bequests are a major source of income for charities but surprisingly little is known about them. We propose a multi-stage framework for analysing the bequest decision and examine the evidence for Britain provided by new data on estates. The novelty of the framework is that it distinguishes between five different steps that lead to a charitable bequest. Our new data for Britain have the advantages of covering the whole population of non-trivial estates, in contrast to much of the US literature based on the small fraction of the population covered by estate tax returns, and of containing fuller information on charitable intent. We use this unique data set to explore the relationship with wealth at death of testacy, of leaving a charitable bequest, and of the form of the bequests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F1–F23
JournalThe Economic Journal
Issue number605
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2017


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