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Sources of IRA Saving

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 3


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  • Daniel Feenberg
  • Jonathan Skinner


To address the question of whether IRA5 contribute to capital formation, we use the IRS/University of Michigan taxpayer sample for income tax returns during 1980-84. By matching families across a five-year period, we can estimate the dynamic interactions of IRA purchases and other types of saving, correct for individual differences, and test whether IRA purchases are in part offset by other (net) asset sales. The "reshuffling" hypothesis implies that taxpayers who enroll in IRAs should, over time, experience a drop in net taxable interest and dividend income as their taxable assets (or new loans) are used to purchase IRAs. Conversely, the "new saving" view of IRAs implies that taxable interest and dividend income should be unaffected by IRA purchases. We find little or no evidence which favors the view that IRAs are funded by cashing out existing taxable assets. In fact, individuals who purchased IRAs in each year between 1982-84 increased their asset holdings by more than those who did not purchase IRAs. In one sense, our results strongly confirm the studies by Venti and Wise and Hubbard that IRA saving represents new saving. But shuffling could still occur, albeit on a secondary level: families who are accumulating both taxable assets and IRAs might have accumulated even more taxable assets had IRA5 not been available

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This chapter was published in:

  • Lawrence H. Summers, 1989. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 3," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number summ89-1, May.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10944.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10944

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    1. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Feenberg, 1981. "Alternative Tax Rules and Personal Savings Incentives: Microeconomic Data and Behavioral Simulations," NBER Working Papers 0681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Chris Carroll & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Why Have Private Saving Rates in the United States and Canada Diverged?," NBER Working Papers 2319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1987. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 7-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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