Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Shocks, stocks and socks: consumption smoothing and the replacement of durables during an unemployment spell


Author Info

  • Martin Browning
  • Thomas Crossley


We present theoretical and empirical results on consumption during an unemployment spell. The theory model extends the conventional intertemporal allocation model to take explicit account of the fact that households buy clothing and small durable goods (such as pillows and plates) that are indivisible, irreversible and non-collateralisable. The theoretical analysis suggests that liquidity constrained agents cut back on expenditures on these small durables during a low income spell much more than would be suggested by the income elasticities of these goods in 'normal' times. Conversely, non-durable expenditures flows are much smoother than would be predicted in a model without durables. Thus it seems that agents can smooth utility flows even when total expenditure (on durables and non-durables) is quite volatile. The implications of this model are compared to the implications from three other widely used models of intertemporal allocation. In the empirical section, we exploit the information in a new Canadian panel survey of 20,000 workers who separated from a job in 1993 or 1995. As well as conventional survey information, this survey includes expenditure and asset information. Administrative data from several sources are linked to this panel to provide a detailed picture of the circumstances of households in which one member is unemployed. We estimate a joint total expenditure and demand system and test whether either the level of total expenditure or the structure of demand are sensitive to differences in the Unemployment Insurance benefit rate. We find that they are for households who have no liquid assets. Of the models that we consider, only the intertemporal allocation model proposed in this paper is consistent with this finding.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers with number 27.

as in new window
Length: 37 pages
Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:cilnwp:27

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4M4
Phone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 22765
Fax: (905) 521-8232
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research


Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.


Blog mentions

As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Consumption Smoothing
    by Liam Delaney in The Irish Economy on 2009-06-16 21:25:04
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mcm:cilnwp:27. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.