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Understanding why high income households save more than low income households

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  • Mark Huggett
  • Gustavo Ventura

Abstract

This paper investigates why high income households in the United States save on average more than low income households in cross-section data. The three explanations considered are (1) age differences across households, (2) temporary earnings shocks, and (3) the structure of transfer payments. We use a calibrated life-cycle model to evaluate the quantitative importance of these explanations and find that age and the structure of transfers are quantitatively important in producing the cross-section pattern of United States savings rates. Temporary shocks are of secondary importance.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics with number 106.

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Date of creation: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmem:106

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Keywords: Income ; Saving and investment;

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References

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  1. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
  2. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Christopher I. & Yaron, Amir, 2004. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 609-633, April.
  3. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
  5. Sabelhaus, John, 1993. "What is the Distributional Burden of Taxing Consumption?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(3), pages 331-44, September.
  6. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
  8. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  9. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
  10. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
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  12. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
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  15. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  16. Janet A. Fisher, 1952. "Income, Spending, and Saving Patterns of Consumer Units in Different Age Groups," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in Income and Wealth, Volume 15, pages 75-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
  18. Lillard, Lee A, 1977. "Inequality: Earnings vs. Human Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 42-53, March.
  19. Orazio Attanasio, 1994. "Personal Saving in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: International Comparisons of Household Saving, pages 57-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  21. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  22. Coleman, Wilbur John, II, 1990. "Solving the Stochastic Growth Model by Policy-Function Iteration," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 27-29, January.
  23. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  24. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
  25. Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Life-Cycle Economies and Aggregate Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 465-89, July.
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