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Household income uncertainties over three decades

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  • James Feigenbaum
  • Geng Li

Abstract

We study the trend in household income uncertainty using a novel approach that measures income uncertainty as the variance of forecast errors at each future horizon separately without imposing parametric restrictions on the underlying income shocks. We find that household income uncertainty has risen significantly and persistently since the early 1970s. For example, our measure of near-future uncertainty in total family non-capital income rose about 40 percent between 1971 and 2002. This rising uncertainty is likely due to the increase in variances of both persistent and transitory income shocks. Although the increase in uncertainty was widespread, the increase was most pronounced among single-earner households and high-income households. A parsimoniously calibrated Aiyagari (1994) model is solved to illustrate how rising income uncertainty affects aggregate saving.

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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 2011-25.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-25

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Keywords: Households - Economic aspects ; Uncertainty ; Saving and investment;

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References

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  1. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fatih Guvenen & Anthony Smith, 2010. "Inferring Labor Income Risk from Economic Choices: An Indirect Inference Approach," NBER Working Papers 16327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1995. "The Nature of Precautionary Wealth," NBER Working Papers 5193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. repec:att:wimass:9722 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Baker, Michael & Solon, Gary, 1999. "Earnings Dynamics and Inequality Among Canadian Men, 1976-1992: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Records," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999130e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  7. Olga gorbachev, 2007. "Did Household Consumption Become More Volatile?," ESE Discussion Papers 161, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  8. James Feigenbaum, 2006. "Precautionary Saving Unfettered," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 29, Society for Computational Economics.
  9. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
  10. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Daniel E. Sichel, 2006. "Financial innovation and the Great Moderation: what do household data say?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  11. Feigenbaum James A. & Li Geng, 2012. "Life Cycle Dynamics of Income Uncertainty and Consumption," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-49, May.
  12. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Daniel E. Sichel, 2007. "The evolution of household income volatility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
  15. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 2009. "The Rising Instability of U.S. Earnings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
  16. Diego Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2005. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 11388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. James A. Feigenbaum & Geng Li, 2010. "A semiparametric characterization of income uncertainty over the life cycle," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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