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Household response to the 2008 tax rebates: survey evidence and aggregate implications

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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, we estimate that 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2009-45.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2009-45

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Related research

Keywords: Consumption (Economics) ; Tax rebates;

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References

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  1. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 1993. "Consumer Response to the Timing of Income: Evidence from a Change in Tax Withholding," NBER Working Papers 4344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David S. Johnson & Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2004. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," NBER Working Papers 10784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sumit Agarwal & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas Souleles, 2007. "The reaction of consumer spending and debt to tax rebates; evidence from consumer credit data," Working Papers 07-34, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, 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 2001-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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Cited by:
  1. 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, vol. 4(3), pages 118-45, August.
  2. 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, vol. 0(1), pages 41–73, January.
  3. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2012. "Fiscal Policy and MPC Heterogeneity," CSEF Working Papers 325, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 18 Dec 2012.
  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. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2011. "Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?," BCL working papers 53, Central Bank of Luxembourg.
  6. 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., vol. 34(2), pages 183-204, January.
  7. Kathryn M. E. Dominguez & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2013. "Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 147-52, May.
  8. 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 592, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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