Bequest Motives in Consumption-portfolio Decisions with Recursive Utility

Holger Kraft*, Claus Munk, Farina Weiss

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

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This paper studies finite-horizon consumption-portfolio decisions with recursive utility. We show that the parameter seemingly representing the individual’s bequest preference in traditional recursive utility formulations is quantitatively and qualitatively misleading. The parameter value is uninformative about the optimal bequest which, in some cases, is even inversely related to the magnitude of the apparent bequest weight. We argue that the ratio between optimal bequest and the optimal consumption rate just before the terminal date is a much better representation of the strength of the bequest motive. Numerical examples illustrate the pitfalls using the traditional specification and clarifies how the bequest preference affects optimal decisions and the life-cycle patterns of consumption and wealth assuming constant investment opportunities or stochastic interest rates. We show that the typical utility representation for a unit elasticity of intertemporal substitution actually assumes a strong bequest preference.
TidsskriftJournal of Banking & Finance
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - maj 2022

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 3 February 2022.


  • Consumption-portfolio choice
  • Life-cycle decisions
  • Terminal condition
  • Weight on bequest
  • Epstein-Zin utility