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Why Do the Rich Save So Much?

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  • Christopher D Carroll

Abstract

This paper considers several alternative explanations for the fact that households with higher levels of lifetime income have higher lifetime saving rates (Dynan Skinner and Zeldes (1996); Lillard and Karoly (1997)) The paper argues that the saving behavior or the richest households cannot be explained by models in which the only purpose of wealth accumulation is to finance their own future consumption or even consumption of heirs The paper concludes that the simplest model that explains the relevant facts is one in which either consumers regard the accumulation of wealth as an end in itself or unspent wealth yields a flow of services (such as power or social status) which have the same practical effect on behavior as if wealth were intrinsically desirable

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number 388.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
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Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:388

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  1. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By force of habit: a consumption-based explanation of aggregate stock market behavior," Working Papers 94-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Michael D. Hurd, 1986. "Savings and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  4. Heng-fu Zou, 1991. "The spirit of capitalism and long-run growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 630, The World Bank.
  5. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  8. G. Constantinides, 1990. "Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1397, David K. Levine.
  9. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
  10. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 3046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Modigliani, Franco, 1985. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift and the Wealth of Nations," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1985-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  12. Wilhelm, M.O., 1990. "Bequest Behavior And The Effect Of Heirs' Earnings: Testing The Altruistic Model Of Bequests," Papers 9-90-12, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  13. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  14. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
  15. Bernheim, B Douglas & Bagwell, Kyle, 1988. "Is Everything Neutral?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 308-38, April.
  16. 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.
  17. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1994. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," NBER Working Papers 4795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Auten, Gerald & Joulfaian, David, 1996. "Charitable contributions and intergenerational transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 55-68, January.
  19. Bakshi, Gurdip S & Chen, Zhiwu, 1996. "The Spirit of Capitalism and Stock-Market Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 133-57, March.
  20. 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.
  21. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
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