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Consumption inequality and partial insurance

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  • Richard Blundell

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • Luigi Pistaferri
  • Ian Preston

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

Abstract

This paper describes the transmission of income inequality into consumption inequality and in so doing investigates the degree of insurance to income shocks. It combines panel data on income from the PSID with consumption data from repeated CEX cross-sections and distinguishes between permanent and transitory income shocks. We find some partial insurance of permanent income shocks with more insurance possibilities for the college educated and those nearing retirement. We find little evidence against full insurance for transitory income shocks except among low income households. Tax and welfare benefits are found to play an important role in insuring permanent shocks. Adding durable expenditures to the consumption measure suggests that durable replacement is an important insurance mechanism, especially for transitory income shocks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W04/28.

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Length: 49 pp.
Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/28

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  1. Sumru Altug & Robert A. Miller, 1987. "Household choices in equilibrium," Working Papers 341, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-57, December.
  3. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji & Ana Paula Martins & Aloysius Siow, 1987. "Dynamic Factor Models of Consumption, Hours, and Income," NBER Working Papers 2155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alan J. Auerbach & Daniel Feenberg, 2000. "The Significance of Federal Taxes as Automatic Stabilizers," NBER Working Papers 7662, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Orazio Attanasio & Steven J. Davis, 1994. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Attanasio, Orazio & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 2000. "Consumption smoothing in island economies: Can public insurance reduce welfare?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1225-1258, June.
  9. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joseph G. Altonji & Lewis M. Segal, 1994. "Small Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," NBER Technical Working Papers 0156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
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