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Consumption Over the Life Cycle and Over the Business Cycle

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  • Attanasio, O.P.
  • Browning, M.

Abstract

The main aim of this paper is to assess the validity of the life cycle model of consumption. In particular, we address an issue that has recently received much attention, especially in the macroeconomic literature: that of "excess sensitivity" of consumption growth to income growth. We do this using a time series of cross sections and a novel and flexible parameterization of preferences. The former allows us to' address aggregation issues directly, while with the latter we can allow both the discount factor and the elasticity of intertemporal substitution eis to be affected by various observable variables and lifetime wealth. The main findings can be summarized as follows: (i) the excess sensitivity of consumption growth to labor income disappears when we control for demographic variables. This is true both at life cycle and business cycle frequencies. (ii) estimation of a flexible specification of preferences indicates that the elasticity of intertemporal substitution is a function of several variables, including the level of consumption. The eis increases with the level of consumption, as expected. (iii) the variables that change the eis are also important in explaining why we observe excess sensitivity over the business cycle. (iv) we are able to reconcile our results with those reported both in the macro and micro literature. (v) in our specification the elasticity of intertemporal substitution is not very well determined. This result, however, should be taken with care, as we have not made an effort to construct a 'preferred' specification, which would probably include additional controls for labor supply behavior. The evidence presented shows that the life cycle model cannot be easily dismissed. Indeed, we believe that the model does a good job at representing consumption behavior both over the life cycle and over the business cycle.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg - Center for Economic Research in its series Papers with number 9314.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 1993
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:tilbur:9314

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Postal: TILBURG UNIVERSITY, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH, 5000 LE TILBURG THE NETHERLANDS.
Phone: 31 13 4663050
Fax: 31 13 4663066
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Web page: http://center.uvt.nl/
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Keywords: business cycles ; consumption;

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References

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  1. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
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  3. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1991. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 2436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
  5. Sanford J. Grossman & Robert J. Shiller, 1981. "Consumption Correlatedness and Risk Measurement in Economies with Non trade Assets and Heterogeneous Information," NBER Working Papers 0690, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1986. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) PanelData," NBER Working Papers 2012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 631-49, July.
  9. B. Douglas Bernheim & John B. Shoven, 1991. "National Saving and Economic Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bern91-2, May.
  10. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 0898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Christopher D. Carroll & Lawrence H. Summers, 1991. "Consumption Growth Parallels Income Growth: Some New Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 305-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert E. Hall & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1980. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," NBER Working Papers 0505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stoker, Thomas M, 1984. "Completeness, Distribution Restrictions, and the Form of Aggregate Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 887-907, July.
  14. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  15. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
  16. Blundell, R. & Browning, M. & Meghir, C., 1989. "A Microeconometric Model Of Intertemporal Substitution And Consumer Demand," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 324, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
  18. Campbell, John Y. & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1991. "The response of consumption to income : A cross-country investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 723-756, May.
  19. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-43, May.
  20. Blundell, Richard & Pashardes, Panos & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "What Do We Learn About Consumer Demand Patterns from Micro Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 570-97, June.
  21. Browning, Martin, 1993. "Estimating micro parameters from macro data alone: some pessimistic evidence," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 253-267, September.
  22. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  23. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
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  25. Blinder, Alan S, 1975. "Distribution Effects and the Aggregate Consumption Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(3), pages 447-75, June.
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