Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Life-Cycle Models of Consumption: Is the Evidence Consistent with the Theory?

Contents:

Author Info

  • Angus Deaton

Abstract

The paper considers avariety of evidence that casts light on the validity of the life-cycle model of consumer behavior. In the first part of the paper, simple non-parametric tests are used to examine representative agent models of consumption and labor supply. It seems extremely unlikely that post-war United States evidence can usefully be explained by such a model, at least if the assumption of intertemporal separability is maintained. Changes in aggregate consumption bear little relationship to after tax real interest rates, and consumption has tended to grow even during periods of negative real interest rates. Joint consideration of consumption and labor supply does nothing to resolve the problems that arise when consumption is taken by itself. It is argued that these results cast doubt, not onlife-cycle theory itself, but on the representative agent assumption; there is little reason to suppose that changes inaggregate consumption should be related to the real interestrate.The second part of the paper is concerned with the time-series representation of disposable income and with it simplications for the behavior of consumption under the assumptions of the life-cycle model. If real disposable income is truly a first-order autoregressive process in first differences,a process that fits the data well and is becoming increasing popular in the macro time-series literature,then the life-cycle model implies that changes in consumption should be more variable than innovations in income, a prediction that is manifestly false. Various possible resolutions of this problem are reviewed, including habit formation and alternative representations of disposable income. The paper concludes with some evidence on the excess sensitivity question, why it is that consumption responds to anticipated changes in income. Monte Carlo evidence supports the suggestion made by Mankiw and Shapiro that the presence of time trends can cause severe problems of inference in models containing variables with unit roots, but the results makeit seem unlikely that this is the cause of the widespread excess sensitivity findings.

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: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1910.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1910.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Sep 1988
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1910

Note: EFG
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

References

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

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Silvia Sgherri & Tamim Bayoumi, 2009. "On Impatience and Policy Effectiveness," IMF Working Papers 09/18, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Cepii & Cepremap, 2001. "MARMOTTE : a Multinational Model," Working Papers 2001-15, CEPII research center.
  3. Olivier Allais & Loic Cadiou & St├ęphane Dees, 2001. "Defining Consumption Behaviour in a Multi-Country Model," Working Papers 2001-02, CEPII research center.

Lists

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

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1910. 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.