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The Retirement Consumption Conundrum: Evidence from a Consumption Survey

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  • Johnathan Fisher
  • David S. Johnson
  • Joseph Marchand
  • Timothy M. Smeeding
  • Barbara Boyle Torrey

Abstract

While the life-cycle hypothesis predicts that consumption remains smooth during the transition from work into retirement, recent studies have shown that consumption declines at retirement. This empirical result has been referred to as the retirement consumption puzzle. Previous literature has most often relied on food expenditures to estimate the decline in consumption at retirement. We add to this literature by using broader definitions of consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX), which is a survey designed to estimate total household expenditures. We conduct cohort analysis, using data on four cohorts over 20 years from 1984 to 2003. Our results using only food expenditures are on the lower end of the distribution of existing results. As we use broader measures of consumption, our results suggest that the retirement consumption conundrum decreases by more than half. Further, another contribution of this analysis is to widen the focus of the study of the well-being of the elderly. The retirement consumption puzzle does not tell the whole story on the well-being of the elderly. While we find that consumption-expenditures decrease by about 2.5 percent when individuals retire, expenditures continue to decline at about a rate of 1 percent per year after that.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/the-retirement-consumption-conundrum-evidence-from-a-consumption-survey/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2005-14.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision: Dec 2005
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2005-14

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References

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  1. Steven J. Haider & Melvin Stephens, 2007. "Is There a Retirement-Consumption Puzzle? Evidence Using Subjective Retirement Expectations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 247-264, May.
  2. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 1997. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth Among U.S. Households?," Working Papers 97035, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1994. "Consumption, Needs and Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(3), pages 677-703, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Beznoska, Martin & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Does consumption decline at retirement? Evidence from repeated cross-section data for Germany," Discussion Papers 2012/14, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  2. Anders, Sven, 2010. "Ageing And Consumption – The Impact Of Demographic Change On Food Expenditure Patterns," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116442, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  3. Garry F. Barrett & Milica Kecmanovic, 2012. "Changes in Subjective Well-being with Retirement: Assessing Savings Adequacy in Australia," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 296, McMaster University.
  4. Barrett, Garry F. & Brzozowski, Matthew, 2010. "Involuntary Retirement and the Resolution of the Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: Evidence from Australia," Working Papers 2010-10, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  5. Martin Beznoska & Viktor Steiner, 2012. "Does Consumption Decline at Retirement?: Evidence from Repeated Cross-Section Data for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1220, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. Erik Hurst, 2008. "The Retirement of a Consumption Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 13789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Agar Brugiavini & Erich Battistin, & Enrico Rettore & Guglielmo Weber, 2007. "The Retirement Consumption Puzzle: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Approach," Working Papers 2007_27, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  8. Stephens, Melvin & Unayama, Takashi, 2012. "The impact of retirement on household consumption in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 62-83.
  9. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Some Answers to the Retirement-Consumption Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 12057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Nicolas Moreau & Elena Stancanelli, 2013. "Household Consumption at Retirement: A Regression Discontinuity Study on French Data," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00881215, HAL.
  11. Drescher, Larissa S. & Roosen, Jutta, 2010. "An Analysis Of The Retirement-Consumption Puzzle For Food-At-Home And Away-From-Home Expenditures In Germany," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116441, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  12. Greg Hannsgen, 2006. "A Random Walk Down Maple Lane?: A Critique of Neoclassical Consumption Theory with Reference to Housing Wealth," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_445, Levy Economics Institute, The.
  13. Nicolas Moreau & Elena Stancanelli, 2013. "Household Consumption at Retirement: A Regression Discontinuity Study on French," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13072, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  14. Fisher, Jonathan & Marchand, Joseph, 2010. "Does the Retirement Consumption Puzzle Differ Across the Distribution?," Working Papers 2010-20, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 01 Apr 2011.
  15. Moreau, Nicolas & Stancanelli, Elena G. F., 2013. "Household Consumption at Retirement: A Regression Discontinuity Study on French Data," IZA Discussion Papers 7709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Jurgen Faik & Uwe Fachinger, 2013. "The decomposition of well-being categories: An application to Germany," Working Papers 307, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  17. Nivorozhkina, Ludmila & Nivorozhkin, Anton & Abazieva, Kamilla, 2010. "Drop in consumption associated with retirement. The regression discontinuity design approach," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 19(3), pages 112-126.

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