The Elasticity of Intergenerational Substitution, Parental Altruism, and Fertility Choice

By Juan Carlos Córdoba and Marla Ripoll

Dynastic models common in macroeconomics use a single parameter to control the willingness of individuals to substitute consumption both intertemporally, or across periods, and intergenerationally, or across parents and their children. This paper defines the concept of elasticity of intergenerational substitution (EGS), and extends a standard dynastic model in order to disentangle the EGS from the EIS, or elasticity of intertemporal substitution. A calibrated version of the model lends strong support to the notion that the EGS is significantly larger than one. In contrast, estimates of the EIS suggests that it is at most one. What disciplines the identification is the need to match empirically plausible fertility rates for the US.

This has flavors of hyperbolic discounting, but intergenerational and for the elasticity of substitution. This could have important implications as we evaluate policies that span generations.


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