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Earnings, Consumption and Life Cycle Choices

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  • Meghir, Costas
  • Pistaferri, Luigi

Abstract

We discuss recent developments in the literature that studies how the dynamics of earnings and wages affect consumption choices over the life cycle. We start by analyzing the theoretical impact of income changes on consumption--highlighting the role of persistence, information, size and insurability of changes in economic resources. We next examine the empirical contributions, distinguishing between papers that use only income data and those that use both income and consumption data. The latter do this for two purposes. First, one can make explicit assumptions about the structure of credit and insurance markets and identify the income process or the information set of the individuals. Second, one can assume that the income process or the amount of information that consumers have are known and test the implications of the theory. In general there is an identification issue that has only recently being addressed with better data or better "experiments". We conclude with a discussion of the literature that endogenizes people's earnings and therefore change the nature of risk faced by households.

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This chapter was published in:

  • O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 2011. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 4, number 5.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Labor Economics with number 5-09.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:labchp:5-09

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

    Related research

    Keywords: Consumption; Risk; Income dynamics; Life cycle;

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    References

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    1. Thomas, Duncan & Beegle, Kathleen & Frankenberg, Elizabeth & Sikoki, Bondan & Strauss, John & Teruel, Graciela, 2004. "Education in a crisis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 53-85, June.
    2. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2007. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," NBER Working Papers 13224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Orazio P. Attanasio & Nicola Pavoni, 2011. "Risk Sharing in Private Information Models With Asset Accumulation: Explaining the Excess Smoothness of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1027-1068, 07.
    4. Fatih Guvenen, 2009. "An Empirical Investigation of Labor Income Processes," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 58-79, January.
    5. Christopher D Carroll, 2001. "Precautionary Saving and the Marginal Propensity To Consume Out of Permanent Income," Economics Working Paper Archive 445, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Aug 2009.
    6. Dehejia, Rajeev & DeLeire, Thomas & Luttmer, Erzo F.P., 2007. "Insuring consumption and happiness through religious organizations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 259-279, February.
    7. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Klara Sabirianova Peter & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2009. "Inequality and Volatility Moderation in Russia: Evidence from Micro-Level Panel Data on Consumption and Income," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0905, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    8. Guiso, Luigi & Pistaferri, Luigi & Schivardi, Fabiano, 2001. "Insurance Within the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 2793, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Erich Battistin, 2003. "Errors in survey reports of consumption expenditures," IFS Working Papers W03/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    10. Virginia Sanchez-Marcos & Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low, 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," 2004 Meeting Papers 492, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 191-261, April.
    12. Primiceri, Giorgio E. & van Rens, Thijs, 2007. "Heterogeneous Life-Cycle Profiles, Income Risk and Consumption Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 3239, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Katja Kaufmann & Luigi Pistaferri, 2009. "Disentangling Insurance and Information in Intertemporal Consumption Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 387-92, May.
    15. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877, 05.
    16. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
    17. Altonji, Joseph G. & Martins, Ana Paula & Siow, Aloysius, 2002. "Dynamic factor models of consumption, hours and income," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 3-59, June.
    18. Erich Battistin & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 2007. "Why is consumption more log normal than income? Gibrat's law revisited," IFS Working Papers W07/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    19. Fatih Guvenen, 2005. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," Macroeconomics 0507004, EconWPA.
    20. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Brugiavini, Agar, 2001. "Risk Pooling, Precautionary Saving and Consumption Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 757-79, October.
    21. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
    22. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
    23. Melvin Stephens, 2008. "The Consumption Response to Predictable Changes in Discretionary Income: Evidence from the Repayment of Vehicle Loans," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 241-252, May.
    24. Lisa A. Cameron & Christopher Worswick, 2003. "The Labor Market as a Smoothing Device: Labor Supply Responses to Crop Loss," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 327-341, 05.
    25. Geweke, John & Keane, Michael, 2000. "An empirical analysis of earnings dynamics among men in the PSID: 1968-1989," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 293-356, June.
    26. Melvin Stephens, 2001. "The Long-Run Consumption Effects Of Earnings Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 28-36, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Mark Huggett & Greg Kaplan, 2013. "The Money Value of a Man," Working Papers 1474, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    2. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2007. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," NBER Working Papers 13224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Mark Huggett & Greg Kaplan, 2010. "Human capital values and returns: bounds implied by earnings and asset returns data," Staff Report 448, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Gustavsson, Magnus, 2013. "Permanent versus Transitory Wage Differentials and the Inequality-Hours Hypothesis," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2013:12, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    5. Moritz Kuhn & Mark Wright & Tom Krebs, 2012. "Human Capital Risk, Contract Enforcement, and the Macroeconomy," 2012 Meeting Papers 159, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Gabriela Prelipcean & Mircea Boscoianu, 2014. "Stochastic Dynamic Model on the Consumption – Saving Decision for Adjusting Products and Services Supply According with Consumers` Attainability," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 16(35), pages 201, February.
    7. Stephen Jenkins & Peter Lambert, 2011. "Robert Moffitt and Peter Gottschalk’s 1995 paper ‘Trends in the covariance structure of earnings in the US: 1969–1987’," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 433-437, September.

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