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Loss Aversion in a Savings Model

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  • Bowman, David
  • Minehart, Debby
  • Rabin, Matthew

Abstract

Psychological evidence indicates that a person's well-being depends not only on his current consumption of goods, but on a reference level determined by his past consumption. According to Kahneman and Tversky's (1979) prospect theory, people care much more about losses relative to their reference points than about gains, are risk-averse over gains, and risk-loving over losses. We define these characteristics as loss aversion. We incorporate an extended form of loss aversion into a simple two-period savings model. Our main conclusion is that, when there is sufficient income uncertainty, a person resists lowering consumption in response to bad news about future income, and this resistance is greater than the resistance to increasing consumption in response to good news. We discuss some recent empirical research that confirms this predicted asymmetry in behavior, which seems inconsistent with other models of consumption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt0gf4p3ts.

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Date of creation: 01 May 1993
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt0gf4p3ts

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Related research

Keywords: consumption; habit formation; loss aversion; reference points; risk aversion; savings; Social and Behavioral Sciences;

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Cited by:
  1. Shiller, Robert J., 1999. "Human behavior and the efficiency of the financial system," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 20, pages 1305-1340 Elsevier.
  2. René Garcia & Annamaria Lusardi & Serena Ng, 1995. "Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," CIRANO Working Papers 95s-09, CIRANO.
  3. Clark, Andrew E., 1999. "Are wages habit-forming? evidence from micro data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-200, June.

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