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Population Ageing And Intertemporal Consumption: Representative Agent Versus Social Planner

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  • John Creedy
  • Ross Guest

Abstract

This paper examines the optimal path of consumption over time in the context of population ageing. Older age groups are considered to have relatively greater ‘needs’, resulting for example from additional health costs. These differences give rise to the concept of the ‘equivalent number of persons’, as distinct from the population size. Emphasis is given to the difference between a framework involving a representative agent and one in which plans are made by a social planner. The precise conditions under which consumption growth paths are the same under the representative agent and the social planner are established. This equivalence is found to hold only in the case where the social planner’s value judgements are such that individuals are considered to be the appropriate unit of analysis. An alternative assumption, in which equivalent persons are regarded as the appropriate units, is found to give rise to a different optimal consumption path. Numerical examples demonstrate the relative orders of magnitude for a range of parameter values. The differences are found to be potentially important. The choice of appropriate consumption units – individuals or equivalent persons – is far from arbitrary since it involves possibly conflicting value judgements. This choice has implications for policies designed to influence the optimal saving rate, such as superannuation policy and the fiscal balance.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 972.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:972

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Keywords: Ageing; Intertemporal Consumption;

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References

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  1. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  2. Shorrocks, Anthony, 2004. "Inequality and Welfare Evaluation of Heterogeneous Income Distributions," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Alan P. Kirman, 1992. "Whom or What Does the Representative Individual Represent?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
  4. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  5. Robert J. Barro, 2012. "Inflation and Economic Growth," CEMA Working Papers 568, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  6. André Decoster & Erwin Ooghe, 2002. "Weighting with individuals, equivalent individuals, or not weighting at all. Does it matter empirically?," Public Economics Working Paper Series ces0215, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics.
  7. Productivity Commission, 2005. "Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia," Labor and Demography 0506001, EconWPA.
  8. John Creedy, 2006. "Evaluating Policy: Welfare Weights And Value Judgements," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 971, The University of Melbourne.
  9. John Creedy & Cath Sleeman, 2005. "Adult equivalence scales, inequality and poverty," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 51-81.
  10. Jenkins, Stephen P & Cowell, Frank A, 1994. "Parametric Equivalence Scales and Scale Relativities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 891-900, July.
  11. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Rising Inequality? Changes in the Distribution of Income and Consumption in the 1980s," NBER Working Papers 3964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Roeger, Werner & in 't Veld, Jan, 2004. "Some selected simulation experiments with the European commission's QUEST model," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 785-832, September.
  13. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  14. Glewwe, Paul, 1991. "Household equivalence scales and the measurement of inequality : Transfers from the poor to the rich could decrease inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 211-216, March.
  15. Lewbel, Arthur, 1989. "Exact Aggregation and a Representative Consumer," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 621-33, August.
  16. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, December.
  17. Anthony Shorrocks, 2004. "Inequality and welfare evaluation of heterogeneous income distributions," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 193-218, July.
  18. Ebert, Udo, 1997. "Social Welfare When Needs Differ: An Axiomatic Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(254), pages 233-44, May.
  19. Banks, James & Johnson, Paul, 1994. "Equivalence Scale Relativities Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 883-90, July.
  20. Dave Turner & Claude Giorno & Alain de Serres & Ann Vourc'h & Pete Richardson, 1998. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Ageing in a Global Context," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 193, OECD Publishing.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Creedy, John & Guest, Ross, 2008. "Changes in the taxation of private pensions: Macroeconomic and welfare effects," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 693-712.
  2. Melnikov, N.B. & O'Neill, B.C. & Dalton, M.G., 2012. "Accounting for household heterogeneity in general equilibrium economic growth models," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 1475-1483.
  3. Lees, Kirdan, 2013. "Golden years? The impacts of New Zealand’s ageing on wages, interest rates, wealth and macroeconomy," NZIER Working Paper 2013/1, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.
  4. John Creedy & Ross Guest, 2008. "Sustainable Preferences and Damage Abatement:Value Judgments and Implications for Consumption Streams," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1026, The University of Melbourne.

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