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Precautionary Savings and the Importance of Business Owners

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  • Erik Hurst
  • Arthur Kennickell
  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Francisco Torralba

Abstract

In this paper, we show the pivotal role business owners play in estimating the importance of the precautionary saving motive. Since business owners hold larger amounts of wealth than other households for non-precautionary reasons and also face highly volatile income, they induce a correlation between wealth and income risk regardless of whether or not a precautionary saving motive exists. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics in the 1980s and the 1990s, we show that among both business owners and non-business owners, the size of precautionary savings with respect to labor income risk is modest and accounts for less than ten percent of total household wealth. However, pooling together the two groups leads to an artificially high estimate of the importance of precautionary savings. New data from the Survey of Consumer Finances further confirms that precautionary savings account for less than ten percent of total wealth for both business owners and non-business owners. Thus, while a precautionary saving motive exists and affects all households, it does not give rise to high amounts of wealth in the economy, particularly among those households who face the most volatile stream of income.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11731.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11731

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Luc Arrondel & Hector Calvo Pardo, 2008. "Les Français sont-ils prudents ? Patrimoine et risque sur les revenus des ménages," PSE Working Papers halshs-00585994, HAL.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: the Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," NBER Working Papers 12585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2007. "A direct test of the buffer-stock model of saving," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/29, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  4. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00585994 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2011. "Current Account Imbalances: can Structural Reforms Help to Reduce Them?," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, OECD Publishing, vol. 2011(1), pages 1-44.
  6. Christopher D. Carroll & Miles S. Kimball, 2006. "Precautionary Saving and Precautionary Wealth," Economics Working Paper Archive, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics 530, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  7. Daniel Schunk, 2009. "What Determines Household Saving Behavior? An Examination of Saving Motives and Saving Decisions," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 229(4), pages 467-491, August.
  8. Camilo Mondragón-Vélez & Ximena Peña, 2010. "Business Ownership and Self-Employment in Developing Economies: The Colombian Case," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 89-127 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2010. "The Impact of Structural Policies on Saving, Investment and Current Accounts," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 815, OECD Publishing.

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