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Saving Viewed from a Cross-National Perspective

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  • Annamaria Lusardi

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

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    Abstract

    Household saving is still little understood, and even the basic facts – for instance: How does saving change over the life cycle? Does saving turn negative in old age? – are controversial. Understanding saving behavior is not only an important question of economic theory because the division of income in consumption and saving concerns one of the most fundamental household decisions, but it is also of utmost policy relevance. One reason is that private household saving as a private insurance interacts with social policy as public insurance. Population ageing and its threat to the sustainability of the public insurance systems have put the spotlight back on own saving as a device for old-age provision. Solving the pension crises therefore requires understanding saving. Another reason is growth: capital accumulation through saving increases economic growth directly, and indirectly through changes in labor productivity. The topic of household savings is by no means uncharted territory. Recent comprehensive surveys of the work on saving include Deaton (1992), Browning and Lusardi (1996), and Attanasio (1999). These surveys illustrate the many challenges the theory faces in matching the empirical facts about saving as well as the need to use micro data to understand saving behavior. This volume adds a distinctive international dimension to these studies of saving. It presents the results of the "International Savings Comparison Project" – a project performed under the auspices of a European Union sponsored network of researchers.4 The main focus of this project is the interaction of household saving with public policy, notably the generosity of public pension systems. In this sense, our work is very much in the tradition of Feldstein’s (1974) seminal study. However, we transpose the inference from time series data to a set of international panel data drawn from six country studies. These studies analyze household saving in four European countries – Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – and in Japan and the United States.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 02024.

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    Date of creation: 12 Sep 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:02024

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    Postal: Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Amalienstraße 33, 80799 München, Germany
    Phone: +49/89/38602.442
    Fax: +49/89/38602.490
    Web page: http://www.mea.mpisoc.mpg.de/

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    References

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    1. Christopher D Carroll, 1990. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," Economics Working Paper Archive 371, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Aug 1996.
    2. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1992. "Saving, Growth and Liquidity Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1990. "But They Don't Want to Reduce Housing Equity," NBER Working Papers 2859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    5. A Lusardi & J Skinner & S Venti, 2001. "Saving puzzles and saving policies in the United States," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 95-115, Spring.
    6. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1990. "Consumption puzzles and precautionary savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 113-136, January.
    7. Christopher D. Carroll, 1998. "Why Do the Rich Save So Much?," NBER Working Papers 6549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Arie Kapteyn & Constantijn Panis, 2003. "The Size and Composition of Wealth Holdings in the United States, Italy, and the Netherlands," Working Papers 03-05, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    10. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
    11. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Schnabel, Reinhold, 1997. "Social security and retirement in germany," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 97-20, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    13. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 1992. "Saving and Consumption Patterns of the Elderly: The German Case," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 289-303.
    14. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2000. "The German Savings Puzzle," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 01-07, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
      • Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2000. "The German Savings Puzzle," Discussion Papers 594, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
    15. Annamaria Lusardi, 2000. "Precautionary Saving and the Accumulation Of Wealth," JCPR Working Papers 204, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    16. Rodepeter, Ralf & Winter, Joachim, 1998. "Savings decisions under life-time and earnings uncertainty:," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 98-58, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    17. Chiuri, Maria Concetta & Jappelli, Tullio, 2003. "Financial market imperfections and home ownership: A comparative study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 857-875, October.
    18. Avery, Robert B & Kennickell, Arthur B, 1991. "Household Saving in the U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(4), pages 409-32, December.
    19. Eric M. Engen & Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "Unemployment Insurance and Precautionary Saving," NBER Working Papers 5252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
    21. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2549, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Anette Reil-Held, 1999. "Bequests and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation in Germany," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(1), pages 50-63, January.
    23. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2002. "Stockholding in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 82, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    24. Lothar Essig, 2002. "Stockholding in Germany," MEA discussion paper series 02019, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    25. Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1998. "The Cause of Wealth Dispersion at Retirement: Choice or Chance?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 185-91, May.
    26. Tullio Jappelli & Franco Modigliani, 1998. "The Age-Saving Profile and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," CSEF Working Papers 09, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
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