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Consumption Over the Life Cycle

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Author Info

  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Princeton University, U.S.A.)

  • Jonathan A. Parker

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, U.S.A.)

Abstract

This paper estimates a structural model of optimal life-cycle consumption expenditures in the presence of realistic labor income uncertainty. We employ synthetic cohort techniques and Consumer Expenditure Survey data to construct average age-profiles of consumption and income over the working lives of typical households across different education and occupation groups. The model fits the profiles quite well. In addition to providing reasonable estimates of the discount rate and risk aversion, we find that consumer behavior changes strikingly over the life cycle. Young consumers behave as buffer-stock agents. Around age 40, the typical household starts accumulating liquid assets for retirement and its behavior mimics more closely that of a certainty equivalent consumer. Our methodology provides a natural decomposition of saving and wealth into its precautionary and life-cycle components. Copyright The Econometric Society 2002.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 70 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 47-89

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:70:y:2002:i:1:p:47-89

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  1. David A. Wise & Steven F. Venti, 1993. "The Wealth of Cohorts: Retirement Saving and the Changing Assets of Older Americans," NBER Working Papers 4600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Clarida, Richard H, 1991. "Aggregate Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 851-67, August.
  3. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1990. "Consumption puzzles and precautionary savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 113-136, January.
  4. Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1993. "Simulated Moments Estimation of Markov Models of Asset Prices," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 929-52, July.
  5. Attanasio, Orazio P & Browning, Martin, 1995. "Consumption over the Life Cycle and over the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1118-37, December.
  6. Carroll, Christopher D, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55, February.
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  8. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
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  29. repec:fth:coluec:544 is not listed on IDEAS
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  1. Performing Consumption Smoothing
    by Mike in Rortybomb on 2009-05-29 19:01:10
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