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Rules of Thumb in Life-Cycle Savings Models

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  • Ralf Rodepeter

    (Universitaet Mannheim)

  • Joachim K. Winter

    (Universitaet Mannheim)

Abstract

We analyze life-cycle savings decisions when households use simple heuristics, or rules of thumb, rather than solve the underlying intertemporal optimization problem. The decision rules we explore are a simple Keynesian rule where consumption follows income; a simple consumption rule where only a fraction of positive income shocks is saved; a rule that corresponds to the permanent income hypothesis; and two rules that have been found in experimental studies. Using these rules, we simulate life-cycle savings decisions numerically and compute the utility losses relative to the backwards solution of the intertemporal optimization problem. Our central finding is that the utility losses induced by rule-of-thumb behavior are relatively low. We conclude that behaving optimally, in the sense of solving an intertemporal optimization model, is not only costly, it is also not much better than using simpler heuristics which do not require backward induction. Our results might also explain why optimization models typically fit the main features of empirical data quite well although optimizing behavior itself is frequently rejected.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 1222.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1222

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jim Malley & Hassan Molana, 2003. "The Life-Cycle-Permanent- Income Hypothesis: A Reinterpretation and Supporting Evidence," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 138, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
  2. Börsch-Supan, Axel H. & Heiss, Florian & Ludwig, Alexander & Winter, Joachim, 2003. "Pension reform, capital markets and the rate of return," Munich Reprints in Economics 20200, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Berg, Nathan & Hoffrage, Ulrich, 2008. "Rational ignoring with unbounded cognitive capacity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 792-809, December.
  4. Kohei Kubota & Mototsugu Fukushige, 2009. "Rational consumers," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 09-15, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  5. Maier, Andreas, 2010. "Immobilienverzehrprodukte: Potenzielle Profiteure und Nachfragehemmnisse," Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory 115, University of Rostock, Institute of Economics.
  6. Jim Malley & Hassan Molana, 2002. "The Life-Cycle-Permanent-Income Model: A Reinterpretation and Supporting Evidence," Working Papers 2002_17, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  7. Thomas Post & Helmut Gründl & Hato Schmeiser, 2006. "Portfolio management and retirement: what is the best arrangement for a family?," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 265-285, September.
  8. Lothar Essig, 2005. "Methodological aspects of the SAVE data set," MEA discussion paper series 05080, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

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