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Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate: Survey Evidence and Aggregate Implications

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24

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  • Claudia R. Sahm
  • Matthew D. Shapiro
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

Only about one-fifth of respondents in the Reuters/University of Michigan survey report that the 2008 tax rebates led them to mostly increase spending, while over half said it would lead them to mostly pay off debt. Of those in the mostly-spend category, the response was swift, with over 80 percent reporting increasing their spending within three months of receiving their rebate. Older households, households with higher wealth and higher income, and those expecting future income growth were generally more likely to spend the rebates. A review of other surveys confirms the general pattern of results and suggests that small changes in survey design do not have a major effect on the distribution of responses. The distribution of survey answers corresponds to an aggregate MPC after one year of about one-third. The paper combines this survey-based estimate of the MPC and the survey-based estimate of the timing of spending to show that the rebates help explain the aggregate movements in saving, spending, and debt in 2008. Because the rebate was large and distributed over a short period, it had a non-trivial effect on total spending in the second and third quarters of 2008. Nonetheless, the results imply that the rebates provided only a modest stimulus to spending per dollar of rebate.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jeffrey R. Brown, 2010. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brow09-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11972.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11972

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    References

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    1. Shapiro, Matthew D & Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Consumer Response to the Timing of Income: Evidence from a Change in Tax Withholding," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 274-83, March.
    2. Sumit Agarwal & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2007. "The Reaction of Consumer Spending and Debt to Tax Rebates -- Evidence from Consumer Credit Data," NBER Working Papers 13694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David S. Johnson & Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2004. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics. 136, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
    4. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
    5. Morris A. Davis & Michael G. Palumbo, 2001. "A primer on the economics and time series econometrics of wealth effects," Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 2001-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:
    1. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod & Claudia R Sahm, 2011. "Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?," 2011 Meeting Papers 92, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Kathryn M.E. Dominguez & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2013. "Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?," NBER Working Papers 18751, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kenneth A. Lewis & Laurence S. Seidman, 2011. "Did the 2008 rebate fail? a response to Taylor and Feldstein," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 34(2), pages 183-204, January.
    4. Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles & David S. Johnson & Robert McClelland, 2011. "Consumer Spending and the Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008," NBER Working Papers 16684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Glenn Follette & Byron Lutz, 2010. "Fiscal Policy in the United States: Automatic Stabilizers, Discretionary Fiscal Policy Actions, and the Economy," Revista de Economía y Estadística, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Instituto de Economía y Finanzas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Instituto de Economía y Finanzas, vol. 0(1), pages 41–73, January.
    6. Grant Graziani & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2013. "A boost in the paycheck: survey evidence on workers’ response to the 2011 payroll tax cuts," Staff Reports, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 592, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2013. "Fiscal policy and MPC heterogeneity," CFS Working Paper Series 2013/14, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    8. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Laura Feiveson & Zachary Liscow & William Gui Woolston, 2012. "Does State Fiscal Relief during Recessions Increase Employment? Evidence from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 118-45, August.

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