Mixed blessings? The chances of leaving an inheritance among immigrants and native-born elderly populations in Europe

Albert Sabater, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)

Introduction: It is widely acknowledged that intergenerational transfers are a major source of social bonds. In Europe the setting up of welfare systems and the widespread existence of pensions systems have been crucial in making older people as providers of financial support to their offspring. Whilst abundant literature has dealt with the description and explanation of intergenerational transfers, little is known still about the patterns of downward financial flows to younger generations via inheritance between immigrants and native-born elderly populations. Aim: Of importance here is to assess the differences in the chances of leaving an inheritance among various immigrants and native-born elderly populations in Europe. This paper makes two specific contributions. First, it assesses the probability of leaving an inheritance based on nativity, immigrant origin, age at migration and duration of residence. Second, it sets out cross-region and country differences in the chances of leaving an inheritance. Data: The study uses data from the Survey of Health and Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which allow us to provide comparative evidence between people aged 50 and for 11 (wave 1) and 14 (wave 2) European countries. Results: The odds of leaving an inheritance are significantly lower for immigrants than for the native-born elderly although important differences are found too among immigrant groups. Age at migration appears to be a more powerful predictor of leaving an inheritance than duration of residence. The chances of receiving an inheritance and homeownership are the two most powerful predictors of leaving an inheritance. The findings make evident the need to address social disparities in order to tackle the growing wealth gap and intergenerational inequality that creates unequal socioeconomic positions across generations.

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Presented in Session 20: Ageing in place and older migrants