ESRI Working Paper

Gifts and inheritances in Ireland

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December 18, 2017
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Information on the frequency, value and composition of household wealth transfers has been fairly limited in Ireland and this paper aims to fill this gap by drawing on the detailed data now available on the pattern of gifts and inheritances from the 2013 Household Finance and Consumption Survey. We find that a considerably larger number of older and wealthier households report having received a gift or inheritance compared to their younger, less wealthy counterparts. The household main residence and businesses/farms are identified as the most important asset type in wealth transfers. Overall slightly over 13% of home-owning households were gifted or inherited their household main residence. We also show some association between inheritance and position in the wealth distribution, controlling for other factors. We find that that having received an inheritance or gift moves a household up the wealth distribution by 15.4 percentiles on average relative to households of the same income level that did not receive an inheritance. This effect is particularly large when the inheritance takes the form of a business or a property (not the main residence).