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Mortality Risk and Consumption by Couples

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  • Michael D. Hurd

Abstract

This paper proposes and analyzes a life-cycle model of consumption by couples. The model is considerably more complicated than the standard model for singles because it has to account for the welfare of a surviving spouse. The determinants of consumption are the survival paths of each spouse, bequeathable wealth, the flow of annuities both before and after the death of one of the spouses, a motive for bequeathing at the death of the surviving spouse, and the parameters of the utility functions of the couple and of each spouse if widowed. The analysis shows how consumption and the rate of change of bequeathable wealth react to variations in these determinants, and it compares the consumption level of a single person to a couple. Summaries of wealth change and consumption in panel data are given which offer general support for the life-cycle model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7048.

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Date of creation: Mar 1999
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Publication status: Published as "Mortality Risk and Bequests", Econometrica, Vol. 57, no. 4(1989): 779-814.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7048

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  1. Attanasio, O.P. & Browning, M.J., 1993. "Consumption over the life cycle and over the business cycle," Discussion Paper 1993-14, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. John Laitner & F. Thomas Juster, 1993. "New evidence on altruism: a study of TIAA-CREF retirees," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 86, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Michael D. Hurd, 1992. "Wealth Depletion and Life-Cycle Consumption by the Elderly," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in the Economics of Aging, pages 135-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
  6. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "Annuity Prices and Saving Behavior in the United States," NBER Working Papers 1683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1.
  8. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1988. "Annuity Prices and Saving Behavior in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 53-84 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  10. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Arie Kapteyn & Rob Alessie & Annamaria Lusardi, 1999. "Explaining the Wealth Holdings of Different Cohorts: Productivity Growth and Social Security," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 99-069/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Shelly Lundberg & Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2000. "Saving for Retirement: Household Bargaining and Household Net Worth," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0026, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  3. Michael Hurd & James P. Smith, 2002. "Expected Bequests and Their Distribution," NBER Working Papers 9142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jan Rouwendal, 2009. "Housing Wealth and Household Portfolios in an Ageing Society," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 1-48, March.
  5. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 2001. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Chapters, in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 357-392 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mauro Baranzini, 2005. "Modigliani's life-cycle theory of savings fifty years later," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 109-172.
  7. Siu Fai Leung, 2000. "Why Do Some Households Save So Little? A Rational Explanation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(4), pages 771-800, October.
  8. Michael Hurd & Arie Kapteyn, 2003. "Health, Wealth, and the Role of Institutions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  9. Michael Hurd, 2003. "Are Bequests Accidental or Desired?," Working Papers 03-13, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  10. Mauro Baranzini, 2005. "Modigliani's life-cycle theory of savings fifty years later," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 109-172.
  11. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Adequacy of Economic Resources in Retirement and Returns-toscale in Consumption," Working Papers wp174, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  12. Michael Hurd & Elaine Reardon, 2003. "Real Wealth Changes from 1982 to 1991 Among the Newly Retired," Working Papers 03-15, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  13. Felix Freyland, 2005. "Household Composition and Savings: An Overview," MEA discussion paper series 05087, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  14. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2013. "Wealth Dynamics and Active Saving at Older Ages," NBER Chapters, in: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ernesto Villanueva, 2005. "Inter vivos transfers and bequests in three OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 20(43), pages 505-565, 07.
  16. Carlos Vidal-Melia & Ana Lejárraga-García, 2004. "The Bequest Motive And Single People’S Demand For Life Annuities," Public Economics 0405005, EconWPA.

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