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Do consumers gamble to convexify?

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Author Info

  • Thomas Crossley

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Cambridge)

  • Hamish Low

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Trinity College, Cambridge)

  • Sarah Smith

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Centre for Market and Public Organisation)

Abstract

When consumption goods are indivisible, individuals have to hold enough resources to cross a purchasing threshold. If individuals are liquidity constrained, they are unable to borrow to cross that threshold. Instead, we show that such individuals, even if risk averse, may choose to play gamble through playing lotteries to have a chance of crossing the threshold. One implication of this model is that income effects for individuals who choose to play lotteries are likely to be larger than for the general population. This in turn implies that estimating income effects through the random allocation of lottery winnings is likely to be a biased estimate of income effects of the broader population who chose not to gamble. Using UK data on lottery wins, other windfalls and durable good purchases, we show that lottery players display higher income effects than non-players but only amongst those likely to be credit constrained. This is consistent with credit constrained, risk-averse agents gambling in order to cross a purchase threshold and to convexify their budget set.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W11/07.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:11/07

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  1. Besley, T. & Coate, S. & Loury, G., 1990. "The Economics Of Rotating Savings And Credit Associations," Papers 149, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. Robert M. Townsend & Kenichi Ueda, 2003. "Financial Deepening, Inequality, and Growth," IMF Working Papers 03/193, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Ng Yew Kwang, 1965. "Why do People Buy Lottery Tickets? Choices Involving Risk and the Indivisibility of Expenditure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 530.
  4. Melissa Schettini Kearney & Peter Tufano & Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst, 2010. "Making Savers Winners: An Overview of Prize-Linked Savings Products," NBER Working Papers 16433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
  6. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
  7. Joulfaian, D. & Wilheim, M.O., 1992. "Inheritance and Labor Supply," Papers 6-92-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  8. Roger Hartley & Lisa Farrell, 1998. "Can Expected Utility Theory Explain Gambling?," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/02, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  9. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2006. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bailey, Martin J & Olson, Mancur & Wonnacott, Paul, 1980. "The Marginal Utility of Income Does not Increase: Borrowing, Lending, and Friedman-Savage Gambles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 372-79, June.
  11. Peter Tufano, 2008. "Saving whilst Gambling: An Empirical Analysis of UK Premium Bonds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 321-26, May.
  12. Milkman, Katherine L. & Beshears, John, 2009. "Mental accounting and small windfalls: Evidence from an online grocer," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 384-394, August.
  13. Keeler, James P & James, William L & Abdel-Ghany, Mohamed, 1985. "The Relative Size of Windfall Income and the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 209-15, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Abbi M Kedir & Richard Disney & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2011. "Why use ROSCAs when you can use banks? Theory, and evidence from Ethiopia," Discussion Papers in Economics 11/32, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Jun 2011.
  2. Atalay, Kadir & Bakhtiar, Fayzan & Cheung, Stephen L. & Slonim, Robert, 2013. "Savings and Prize-Linked Savings Accounts," Working Papers 2013-12, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  3. Appelbaum, Elie & Katz, Eliakim, 1981. "Market Constraints as a Rationale for the Friedman-Savage Utility Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 819-25, August.

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